Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that despite a change in Israel’s government, the Palestinian preconditions for negotiating with Israel would remain the same.
The Israel coalition “may change, but our requirements remain as they are,” Abbas said, speaking at the annual African Union summit in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. “We will continue to demand the same things: a settlement freeze, the release of prisoners and the resolution of all final status arrangements, including Jerusalem, refugees and an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.”
Abbas said that the recognition of the state of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem, is “the foundation for negotiations with Israel.” Touching on last year’s UN vote, which recognized Palestine as a nonmember observer state, Abbas said that “we did not delegitimize Israel, only its settlements and the occupation which it imposes.”
Abbas also decried the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank security barrier as illegitimate, and said that “occupation policy is the policy of a racist regime.”
Linking the plight of Palestinians to the struggle of Africans against European colonialism, Abbas told the assembled African leaders, “As you resist apartheid in your respective countries with all of your might, and defeated it, so we Palestinians oppose Israel’s apartheid and will defeat it.”
Last week, senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Abbas would seek meetings with the representatives of Israel’s elected parties to try to make sure peacemaking is on the new government’s agenda.
“We invite the Israeli parties, particularly the new ones, for dialogue on future accords,” Abed Rabbo said.
He did not say when the invitations would go out, but emphasized that Abbas wanted the encounters to take place before Israel forms its next government — a process that is expected to take several weeks.
While opinion polls indicate a majority of Israelis back the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, peacemaking was barely mentioned as a campaign issue, reflecting widespread doubts that peace is possible after decades of violence and stop-and-go talks.
Associated Press contributed to this report