Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday welcomed a French plan to recognize the state of Palestine should a fresh push for peace talks fail, and warned that his people would no longer accept Israel’s occupation or settlements.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced Friday that Paris would shortly try to convene an international conference, with the hope of enabling new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but that if this effort reached a dead end, Paris would recognize a Palestinian state. Israel immediately rejected the proposal.
Speaking at a summit of African nations in Addis Ababa, Abbas blasted the occupation, settlements, and what he said was Israel’s seizure of Palestinian natural resources. He also accused the Israeli government of stalling peace efforts by the international community.
“We cannot accept the current situation, including the occupation and settlements,” he said, the Maariv website reported.
“We have to establish a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa. “We won’t accept interim or temporary solutions.”
“We won’t return to negotiations just for the sake of negotiating and won’t continue to unilaterally implement previous agreements,” Abbas told the summit. Nor will the Palestinians “accept the theft of our natural resources, and the non-utilization of our lands or investment in them,” he said.
“The region will not enjoy security and stability unless the Israeli occupation and settlement activities end,” Abbas continued. “We will stay here on our land and in our homeland, where we have developed our historical and cultural identity and made humanitarian contributions for thousands of years.”
The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip and is a bitter rival of Abbas’ Fatah movement, rejected the French plan as untenable, Ynet said.
Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan said that the calls from the international community to renew peace talks were futile and unacceptable. The world was trying to implement solutions that had previously failed, he said.
Meanwhile, leading figures in Israel’s opposition earlier Saturday called the French ultimatum a direct result of the current government’s failed diplomatic policies.
“Only an Israeli diplomatic initiative will enable Israel to retain control of its future, and relieve us of the tightening international pressure around our necks,” Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said. “As long as there is no initiative on our part, the Palestinians will continue to make gains in the world.”
The head of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Galon, accused Netanyahu of giving the French “the middle finger” by outright rejecting Fabius’s offer.
The government’s rejection of the French ultimatum did receive support, however, from Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, though he blamed Israel’s leadership for having eroded the country’s standing in Europe.
“Israel will not be coerced into negotiations. We won’t be dragged with threats to the negotiating table,” Lapid said during a cultural event in central Israel on Saturday. “No sovereign nation would accept that.”
An unnamed American official also cautiously rejected the French proposal, according to Reuters. “The US position on this issue has been clear. We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly,” the official said.
AFP contributed to this report.