PA will resume peace talks if Israel freezes settlement building, Abbas says
Speaking to U.S. Mideast Envoy David Hale, PA President says Palestinians committed to work with Quartet, says UN statehood bid not aimed at isolating Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a top U.S. official on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority was willing to cooperate with the Quartet on the Middle East in order to restart peace talks with Israel, but added that Israel had to both freeze all settlement construction and recognize the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations.
On Saturday, Abbas and other PA officials stressed that they will continue efforts to seek full United Nations membership in spite of the latest setbacks at the UN Security Council.
A Palestinian application for full UN membership Abbas submitted on September 23 hit a snag on Friday when a committee reviewing it was not able to agree on the application.
Israel and the United States both opposed the move at the UN, arguing that a unilateral move would not secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and that only direct talks would resolve the conflict.
Referring to the chances of resuming talks on Sunday, Abbas was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA as telling U.S. Mideast envoy David Hale that "resuming negotiations with Israel requires the Israeli government to uphold its responsibilities; to stop settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and accept the two-state solution based on 1967 borders."
The Palestinian president also urged the United States to change its position on the PA's statehood bid at the UN, reiterating that the gambit was not an attempt to delegitimize or isolate Israel but to achieve "the two- state solution based on the 1967 borders."
Speaking to reporters in Tunisia, where he is on an official two-day visit, Abbas said late Friday that even if efforts at getting full membership fail at this time, the PA will continue in its efforts in the future. He ruled out the possibility of dissolving the Palestinian Authority if the UN efforts fail.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki also said Saturday that these efforts will continue, "even for the 1,000th time," until Palestine is granted full membership. "Our goal is to get full membership," he said, stressing that becoming a non-member state of the UN remains an option that the Palestinians can embark on at any time and most likely get, but it was not the primary goal.
"We always knew that one round to get full membership would not be enough," Malki told Voice of Palestine radio from New York, where he was following up on the Palestinian application.