Abbas to Israel: Don't Lead Us Toward Confrontation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel yesterday not to lead the Palestinians toward a confrontation they don't want. But he said the Palestinians have a right to popular resistance to protect their homes and property and that the international community recognizes this.

Abbas was speaking after a meeting with U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Abbas described the latest incidents in the West Bank in which four Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israel Defense Forces as grave and dangerous. He called on the Israeli government to contain the settlers and cease what he described as "aggression" against Palestinian civilians.

Abbas said that despite Israeli aggression, the Palestinians continue to behave with great restraint. But he warned that this restraint cannot continue indefinitely.

Abbas said he and Mitchell discussed issues of substance. But he added that he is still waiting for a response from Israel on the Quartet's call over the weekend for a total freeze in settlement construction, including Jerusalem.

"We are demanding the implementation of this announcement, and [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] must carry out what the Quartet has decided," Abbas said.

Mitchell, meanwhile, said he urged all sides to exercise restraint. He said that what is needed now is a period of calm in which current efforts can go forward.