Abbas: Palestinians Will Resume Mideast Peace Talks if Israel Accepts Quartet Statement

Speaking with TIME magazine, PA President says Israel's acceptance of negotiations blueprint 'with reservations' was an attempt to end a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN.

The Palestinian Authority will resume direct Mideast peace talks if Israel fully accepts the Quartet's recently released negotiations blueprint, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview on Tuesday.

Abbas' remarks to TIME magazine came after, earlier this month, a top Israeli official said that Israel's answer to newly offered roadmap for peace amounted to a "yes, but" and that Israeli officials would present several qualifications concerning points included in the plan.

Mahmoud Abbas in colombia - AFP -  October 10 2011

Those qualifications, the official said, revolved, among others, around the Palestinian demand for a West Bank settlement freeze, the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and the suggested timetable for direct talks.

Speaking with TIME magazine on Tuesday during his official visit to Colombia, Abbas claimed Israel's acceptance of the Quartet document was a ploy meant to end the Palestinian bid at the UN, saying that if "If the Israelis accept the statement of The Quartet, I will accept," adding that he would "return back to the negotiating table."

The Palestinian president also referred to an Israeli rebuttal of the Palestinian demand for a freeze of settlement construction as a "pre-condition" to peace talks, telling TIME: "It's a Road Map obligation, it's not a precondition."

"I will not return back to Obama's speech in Cairo," Abbas said, adding, however, that he will "talk about the Road Map. That's not a precondition."

The Palestinian president also reiterated the PA stance, according to which the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN was separate from any future peace talks, and would not be undone if such talks resume.

Speaking with Haaretz earlier Tuesday, a senior Palestinian official said that he did not expect talks to take place any time soon, as a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's unchanged position on West Bank settlement construction.

The PA official also referred to the Palestinians' unwillingness to back off from their UN bid, saying: "This position is not new. As far as we are concerned renewed negotiations do not cancel the bid at the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, since they are two separate processes."

"[The Palestinians] expect any negotiations to result in a state within the 1967 borders, just as they are now working to gain recognition at the UN. Meaning, the two processes are not in conflict with one another," the official said.