Abbas: No Peace Talks Without East Jerusalem Construction Freeze

Speaking in Cairo after talks with Mubarak, Palestinian president says there has been no official U.S. request for either side to return to peace talks.

The Palestinian Authority will not return to peace talks with Israel unless there is a freeze on settlement building that includes East Jerusalem, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday.

Mahmoud Abbas and Hosni Mubarak in Cairon, Nov. 21, 2010.Credit: Reuters

The United States has offered Israel a series of incentives to renew a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, which ended in September after 10 months, with an eye to restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Abbas said the Palestinians and Israel had received no official U.S. request to return to the talks.

Asked if the Palestinian Authority would agree to resume the talks if a new settlement freeze did not include East Jerusalem, he said: "Of course ... if there is no complete halt to settlements in all of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem, we will not accept."

A U.S. official told Haaretz last week that Washington will demand a halt in construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, however, is pressuring him to reject any freeze that includes East Jerusalem.

Israel and the United States have been engaged in what Netanyahu called "intensive" talks over Israel's demand to receive written guarantees in exchange for a new 90-day freeze.

Another contentious clause in the deal being negotiated between Israel and the United States has been the alleged U.S. offer to provide Israel with 20 F-35 stealth warplanes worth $3 billion as part of a settlement freeze deal.

In Amman, Abbas told the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat that he rejects the linking of a U.S. fighter jets deal with Israel worth $3 billion dollars, in addition to $20 billion of U.S. aid, to the 3-month freeze.

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