Abbas to Obama: I'll quit, there's no chance for peace with Netanyahu
Channel 10 reported that Palestinian leader expressed disappointment with U.S. 'capitulation' on settlements.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told U.S. President Barack Obama that he intends to resign his post, Channel 10 television reported on Monday.
According to the report, the Palestinian leader told Obama during a telephone conversation last week that he sees no chance of advancing the peace process with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power.
Channel 10 also reported that Abbas communicated to the White House his disappointment in the administration's "capitulation" to Jerusalem on the issue of West Bank settlement construction.
The Palestinians are demanding a cessation of Israeli settlement activity as a precondition to the resumption of peace negotiations.
While the Netanyahu government has committed to not building any new settlements, it has balked at a total freeze which would stunt "natural growth" in existing settlements which Israel plans to annex in any final status accommodation with the Palestinians.
The U.S. and Israel are currently holding talks in hopes of reaching a compromise on the issue.
According to Channel 10, Abbas told the White House that the Palestinian Authority's initial decision to defer a vote on the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Human Rights Council was politically damaging.
The Palestinian Authority agreed to delay debating the report over concerns that going ahead could harm the fragile Middle East peace process. The decision led to street protests by Palestinians and condemnation around the Arab world.
In recent days, Abbas has sent a number of blunt, unequivocal messages to the White House, Channel 10 reported. According to information which reached Israeli officials, Abbas told the U.S. president that he will not stand for re-election as Palestinian Authority president given the diplomatic stalemate with Israel.
Abbas called on Friday for presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 24, in a bid to regain dominance of the badly divided Palestinian movement and sideline his Islamist rivals, Hamas.
According to Channel 10, Abbas also told the Americans that he sees no possibility that his Fatah faction, which currently rules the West Bank, can reach a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, the Islamist group which ousted Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and Fatah are currently in the midst of Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks.
In response to the report, a senior Netanyahu aide told Channel 10: "Netanyahu carried out a number of steps in order to renew the peace process, as the American administration is fully aware. The prime minister called on the Palestinians to renew negotiations immediately and without preconditions."
"In contrast to the prime minister, the Palestinians are assuming a tougher stance and are placing preconditions before negotiations that they did not demand of previous [Israeli] governments," the source told Channel 10. "It is a shame that their transparent political maneuvers are casting a pall over the peace process."
Earlier Monday, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat blamed Israel for the impasse. Erekat urged Washington to also find fault with Israel.
"The gap is still wide and Israel does not give a single sign of meeting its obligations under the road map, halting settlement activities and resuming negotiations where they left off," he told Voice of Palestine radio.
"I do not see any possibility for restarting peace talks in the near future," Erekat said.
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