Abbas to Demand Changes to Oslo Peace Accords

Returning home from UN General Assembly, PA president says that terms of Paris Agreement prevent Palestinian economy from prospering.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he intends to demand the reopening of the Paris Agreement, the part of the Oslo Accords that deals with economic relations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"We want to reopen the Paris Agreement and make changes to it," Abbas told reporters aboard the aircraft taking him home to Ramallah following the UN General Assembly meeting. "The agreement is not fair and there are restrictions on Palestinians that prevent our economy from growing and prospering. The Paris Agreement does not give us the opportunity to develop our economy and our country."

Abbas at UN - AP - Sept. 21, 2011

The Paris Agreement was signed in April 1994. It established that there was no commercial border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and set up a joint customs system controlled by Israel that collects taxes for the Palestinians. The agreement imposes severe restrictions on trade between the Palestinians and the rest of the world and requires the Palestinians to depend on Israeli economic bodies.

At the time, the Palestinians objected to the agreement, preferring that economic relations with Israel be arranged as part of a free trade zone. The Palestinians only signed the agreement after Israel promised to allow Palestinians to continue working in Israel. Over the past ten years, the number of Palestinians working in Israel has dropped to a minimum.

Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians continue to respond to the Middle East Quartet's proposal to renew peace negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering responding positively to it, despite reservations about the timetables set in it.

"It seems like a positive message that includes things that are important to us," said officials close to Netanyahu. 'But we want to study it to make sure that it does not contain mines that we have not identified yet."

Netanyahu, however, will only make his decision and give an official reply to the proposal after meeting with his forum of senior ministers upon his return to Israel.

The Palestinians have sounded more reserved about the Quartet proposal.

"Any initiative that does not include the freezing of settlement construction and negotiations based on the 1967 borders will not be acceptable to me," Abbas said to reporters on his plane.

Abbas also said on Saturday that he expected the Security Council to finish debating the Palestinian application for full United Nations membership within weeks, not months.

Abbas said Security Council members had initially appeared unenthusiastic about the idea of discussing the application.

But he said the mood appeared to change after he delivered a speech to the General Assembly on Friday, during which he pressed the Palestinian case for an independent state alongside Israel.

"We are talking about weeks not months," Abbas said.