Abbas: I choose Netanyahu as my partner for peace
Palestinian leader, speaking to Tunisian parliament, calls on Netanyahu to halt construction in settlements, return to talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Tunisian parliament on Monday, "I choose you [Benjamin] Netanyahu as my partner for peace. With whom else can I make peace?"
He qualified the unusual statement, however, by adding that Netanyahu must "choose between settlements and peace."
Speaking to Tunisia's interim parliament, Abbas reiterated his demands from Israel: halting construction in the settlements, recognition of the two-state solution and acceptance of the principle of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
Abbas expressed his willingness to return to negotiations with Israel, but insisted that such a move would be conditional upon Israel halting settlement construction.
He added that the Palestinian Authority's request that the UN recognize Palestine as an independent state would remain in effect, and that there is no contradiction between the two processes.
Abbas also said the Palestinians had made a decision to take the issue of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails to the UN as well. According to Palestinian human rights groups, some 2,500 Palestinian prisoners are currently on a hunger strike.
Last month, a delegation of senior Palestinian officials met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, where they presented him with a lengthy letter from Abbas calling on him to return to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu, for his part, also called on the Palestinian leadership last month to return to negotiations with Israel, stressing his willingness to discuss all of the core issues in the conflict.