Abbas: Even if Talks Break Down, Palestinians Won't Resort to Violence

Palestinian President says intifada caused Palestinians much damage, adds that no decision has been made regarding settlement freeze expiration.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying on Sunday that even if the recently relaunched direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were to break down, his people would not resort to violence.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at a ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 8, 2010. Credit: AP

"We tried the intifada (uprising), and it caused us a lot of damage," Abbas said in an interview with the London-based Arabic language daily Al Hayat.

The Palestinian leader also addressed the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying that "this definition is being used by the Israelis to get rid of all the Arabs in their vicinity."

In regard to the Israeli settlement freeze, set to expire at midnight on Sunday, Abbas said that "we have yet to receive word on what the Israeli move will be. We will make a decision in response to developments on the ground." Abbas has said repeatedly that he would abandon peace talks if Israel were to resume the construction in the West Bank settlements.

Attempts to find a compromise between the sides have failed so far.

Israeli settlers and their supporters have pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the restrictions on new construction. Some are planning to hold a rally Sunday to count down to the official end of the slowdown at midnight.

Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that Israel must choose between peace and the continuation of settlements.

Arab League Chief Amr Moussa said Sunday that Abbas had requested an emergency meeting of the league's monitoring committee officials as soon as possible, presumably to discuss the Palestinians' next move. He was referring to the Arab League forum that gave him the go-ahead to pursue direct peace talks with Israel.

The meeting will likely take place before the end of the week.

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