Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian television on Tuesday that the second intifada was one of the Palestinians' worst mistakes, adding that "[Late Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser] Arafat didn't want the intifada to erupt, but he couldn't stop it."
Abbas insisted that he has the courage to sign a definitive peace agreement with Israel that would put an end to the conflict between the two once and for all. At the same time, he said he would have to put any such peace agreement to a referendum.
"Peace could be achieved in a week" if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also willing to achieve it, Abbas argued.
Abbas recounted that at his last meeting with American Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the U.S. diplomat posed 16 questions related to borders and security arrangements to the Palestinian president and that Abbas intends to respond to them within a week. He also made it clear he would cut off negotiations if settlement construction is resumed after the current 10-month residential building freeze.
The Palestinian president said Egypt and Jordan would agree to the stationing of an international peacekeeping force within the territory of a Palestinian state, but would not go along with positioning their own troops on Palestinian territory or to have international forces on their own side of the border.
He also said if proximity talks with Israel fail, the Palestinians would turn to the United Nations Security Council for a solution to the conflict.
On the subject of the Palestinian boycott of products made in West Bank settlements, Abbas said the Europeans are boycotting the goods and it would be a source of shame for the Palestinians not to follow suit. He said he opposed the use of force against Hamas, just as he opposes the use of force against Israel.
In addressing the circumstances of Arafat's death, Abbas stated that French investigators found no sign of a known poison in Arafat's blood, but noted that there had been threats on the PLO leader's life.
Abbas added that he himself does not have complete protection. He also insisted that he is not afraid to fight corruption even if it means receiving death threats.
Abbas reiterated that he has no intention to run for re-election as president of the Palestinian Authority and plans instead to spend time with his family. He said he would not resign from office prior to the next Palestinian elections, though.