Abbas to Attend Tehran Summit, Following Invitation by Ahmadinejad

Palestinian president receives invitation during meeting with top Iranian official in Jordan; Abbas has indicated that the PA will resume UN recognition bid if impasse in peace talks continues.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Tehran in late August in order to attend a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, Palestinian officials said on Sunday, after the Palestinian Authority head was invited by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Abbas was invited to the summit by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Ahmadinejad's behalf, during a meeting between the two in Jordan. The PA chairman accepted the invitation to the meet, which will take place August 30-31 in Tehran.

In an interview to Israel's Channel 2 broadcast on Saturday night, Abbas said that the Palestinians will resume attempts to get the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state, if no peace talks with Israel are forthcoming.

He said that while negotiations remained his "first, second, and third" option, the UN bid would be pursued if there was no horizon for peace. He did not give a timetable for the move.

A Palestinian bid for UN membership - in effect recognition of Palestinian statehood - fell through last year when it became clear that the necessary Security Council votes were lacking.

Replying in Arabic to questions posed in English, Abbas said he was not issuing an ultimatum, and said that talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depended on the release of 123 Palestinian prisoners who were jailed by Israel prior to the signing of the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords.

Abbas said his insistence that negotiations cannot take place unless Israel freezes construction in its West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem and recognizes the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state, were not pre-conditions.

Instead, he said, his position on the settlements was the same as that of the entire world.

Abbas said he did not accept a bi-national Israeli-Palestinian state as a solution to the conflict, but noted that the Israeli government's settlement policy was making many Palestinians think such an option was the only feasible one.

Abbas' planned trip will come after Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh visited the Islamic Republic in February of this year.

During the visit, coinciding with Iran's celebration of 33 years to the Islamic Revolution, Haniyeh said that Iran will help Muslims around the world to liberate Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque.

"They [West] want from us to stop resistance and acknowledge Israel but I herewith announce that this will never happen," Haniyeh said through an interpreter, adding that the group's "message and the message of all those who lost their blood in the Palestinian lands is that all occupied lands will eventually be liberated from Israeli occupation."