Abbas to Kerry: Ready to Resume Talks With Israel the Moment Settlement Construction Is Frozen

The Palestinian president followed Kerry's speech 'with great interest,' PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat says.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Issam Rimawi, Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's speech with a statement expressing his commitment to a just peace as a strategic decision by the Palestinians.

The statement read out by the Palestine Liberation Organization's general-secretary, Saeb Erekat, said that Abbas followed Kerry's speech "with great interest" and that the Palestinian president "reiterated his commitment to a just and lasting peace as a strategic option."

Abbas also said, according to the statement:

“The minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities, including in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, and agree to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law and relevant international legality resolutions, including UNSC 2334, under a specified timeframe."

Kerry's six principles for a future final status agreement.
Zach Gibson / AFP

"President Abbas is fully convinced that a just, comprehensive and lasting peace can be reached in all core issues on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, with specified terms of reference, which can guarantee to fully end the Israeli occupation and lead to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 border, living in peace and security, side by side, the State of Israel, as well as resolving all core issues, including refugees and prisoners, on the basis of the relevant international legality resolutions."

The statement said Abbas would "continue to cooperate closely with France, which plans to convene next month an international peace conference, in order to guarantee the launching of a credible peace process based on international law, international legality and within a specified timeframe and a new international follow up mechanism."

In his speech, Kerry strongly criticized Israel's government, saying that trends on the ground are leading to a one-state solution and defending the U.S. decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution against the Israeli settlements.

"If the choice is one-state Israel can neither be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both and it will not ever live in peace," he said.

Kerry presented the principles of a future final status agreement: An Israeli and a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines; full rights to all citizens; a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue; Jerusalem as the capital of both states; an end to the occupation, while satisfying Israel's security needs, with a demilitarized Palestinian state; an end to all claims by both sides.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Kerry after the speech, saying in a televised statement that the secretary of state's remarks were a "big disappointment."

Netanyahu said that had the Obama administration invested as much energy in dealing with Palestinian terrorism as it had with Jerusalem construction, maybe the cause of peace would have been better advanced.