Abbas Urges Quartet to Draft New Peace Plan

After laying cornerstone for future Palestinian embassy in Brazil, the PA president calls upon UN, U.S., Europe and Russia to devise a new vision for Mideast peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Middle East power brokers on Friday to draft a new peace plan for the region that could help revive failed U.S.-backed negotiations with Israel.

In a televised speech, Abbas said Palestinians "demand" that the Quartet comprising Washington, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations "draft a peace plan" based on UN Security Council resolutions that call for establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mahmoud Abbas AP 28.10.2010

Abbas, speaking on the anniversary of the foundation of Palestinians' mainstream Fatah movement, reiterated a demand for Israel to halt settlement building, the issue over which negotiations launched anew in September foundered just several weeks later.

But with those peace efforts in tatters and no clear way out, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in remarks broadcast Friday in the West Bank that the international community should step in to devise a new vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas said the international community needs to formulate a peace plan that is consistent with the international resolutions instead of continuing in a process that is managing the conflict but not solving it. He did not elaborate on what a new formula might entail.

Palestinians have rejected an offer put by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week to move toward an interim peace deal rather than a final settlement, in order to try and bypass such sticky conflict issues as the future of Jerusalem, settlements and Palestinian refugees.

Abbas said he expected Washington to do more to confront Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, part of land where Palestinians want to establish their state. "We do not see any action or measures taken to confront the Israeli persistence with regard to settlements," Abbas said.

Abbas, now in Brazil to lay a cornerstone for a Palestinian embassy following that country's formal recognition of Palestinian statehood, has said he would seek further UN action if peace talks with Israel did not resume soon.

The Palestinian Authority president thanked Brazil on Friday for recognizing his nation's statehood with the first embassy in the Americas and said other countries were following suit.

Brazil became the first of several South American countries in recent weeks to recognize a Palestine state along pre-1967 borders.

Since then Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador have done the same. Chile, Mexico, Peru and Nicaragua are reported to be considering recognition.

Israel says the moves are "seriously harmful" to the Middle East peace process and Washington has called them "premature."

"We thank Brazil for its support in the construction of a Palestine state. This favor we will never forget," said Abbas after laying the cornerstone in Brasilia for his nation's first embassy in the Western Hemisphere.

"We see several countries following the example of Brazil in recognizing the Palestinian state," Abbas said before meeting with outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Palestinian authorities are hoping for a diplomatic domino effect to give international validity to their claim for a state in all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As part of a new emphasis on winning international support for their cause, the Palestinians have drafted a proposal and are lobbying for a Security Council resolution that would declare West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The U.S. has said it doesn't support the move, but it remains unclear if it will veto the measure or abstain should the draft come to a vote. Israel says it is an attempt by the Palestinians to avoid negotiations.

Speaking on Thursday to Palestinian expatriates and Arab ambassadors in Brasilia, Brazil, Abbas said the Palestinian draft used language similar to that used by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has criticized settlements.

"We drafted it using the same words that Secretary Clinton is using and so we don't see why the U.S. would veto it," Abbas said.