PA President tells Meretz MKs: No progress in peace talks with Israel

PA Mahmoud Abbas: Palestinian refugees will not be returning to Jaffa & Acre



There has been no progress made whatsoever in the first four meetings between Israeli and Palestinian delegations since diplomatic talks restarted, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting group of Meretz MKs in Ramallah on Thursday, a party spokeswoman said.

Mahmoud Abbas with a visiting group of Meretz MKs in Ramallah, August 22, 2013.

Mahmoud Abbas with a visiting group of Meretz MKs in Ramallah, August 22, 2013. – Photo: Courtesy Palestinian Authority

Abbas said he was not optimistic that the talks will succeed, but he “hoped they were not a waste of time” and that an agreement could be reached between Israel and the Palestinians over the next six months.

Abbas told a visiting delegation of Meretz representatives, headed by MK Zehava Gal-On that the Palestinian people are ready for peace but that there cannot be an interim agreement but only a final status deal that can be implemented in stages. Abbas reassured the MKs that he had given up hope of returning to his childhood home in Safed and that Palestinian refugees will not return to Jaffa or Acre.

Abbas’s statements were the first leak from the talks in which US Secretary of State John Kerry was supposed to be the only one authorized to reveal information to the public.

The Palestinian leader complained that the two sides were not meeting often enough. He said the delegations should be meeting every day, and that he wanted to meet with Netanyahu directly.

Abbas also told the MKs Israel’s continued construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods does not create the appropriate atmosphere for the current peace talks. Abbas said the PA leadership was nevertheless interested in making the peace talks with Israel succeed.

Abbas reiterated his commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace based on a two-state solution with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, said a statement released by the PA president’s office following the meeting.

Abbas told the Meretz representatives that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails was unrelated to the launching of the peace talks.

This was the second meeting between Abbas and MK’s in the past few days. Earlier this week, Abbas met in his office with a delegation from Hadash headed by MK Mohamed Barakeh.

Abbas’s meetings with Israelis came as the PA continued to issue threats to take legal action against Israel in international forums and courts over the settlement activities.

The PA Foreign Ministry on Thursday called on Palestinian and regional parties to “document Israeli violations regarding settlement activities in preparation for pursuing legal measures against Israel in international forums and courts.”

The ministry urged the Quartet members, especially the US, to take immediate action to stop all forms of construction. It said that Israel’s actions constituted a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention and would directly destroy the peace talks.

“Since the beginning of the negotiations, the Israeli government has stepped up its settlement aggression on occupied Palestinian territories,” the ministry said in a statement.

Last weekend, the PLO leadership also threatened to file charges against Israel with international courts and forums over plans to build new housing units in the West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of a US representative in the talks with Israel.

PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Voice of Palestine radio station that Israel remained opposed to the presence of a US official at the talks.

Abed Rabbo said that the absence of a US representative from the talks was “problematic” because this means that Washington would not have any influence on efforts to achieve progress.

He warned that Israel’s policy of pursuing settlement construction would have “disastrous” results on the peace talks.


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