Abbas: Netanyahu Government Is a Genuine Problem

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday that Israel must cease all settlement construction in order to save the peace process in the Middle East. Abbas said the international community must pressure Israel to stop all building in the settlements, as well as construction work on the security barrier, in order to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.

The PA head thanked U.S. president Barack Obama for calling upon Israel to return to the 1967 borders, and said that the American "inspired great hope when declaring his vision for a permanent status agreement, based on freezing the settlements and on the two states principle." However, Abbas also cautioned that Israel's policy of ongoing construction in the settlements, including, and especially, those in East Jerusalem, is holding up any peace process.

In an interview to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Thursday, Abbas described the Netanyahu government as a "genuine problem," because there was "no infrastructure for negotiation." He noted that an outline for negotiations had been agreed upon with the previous Israeli government, and that "there have been maps prepared by both sides and proposals for territory swaps, so we can't to go back to square one." When asked whether there were fundamental disagreements between him and the Israelis on the question of negotiations, Abbas replied that the "settlement construction goes on, Netanyahu says that Jerusalem will not be negotiated on and that refugees will not be negotiated on. So what do we have left to talk about?"