Abbas calls for review of accords with Israel
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Abbas calls for review of accords with Israel

Palestinian leader says Israel ‘must stop violating agreements’ and urges halt to settlement activity

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, January 4, 2015 (Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, January 4, 2015 (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Wednesday for a review of political, security and economical agreements with Israel, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

During a visit to Belgrade and a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, the Palestinian leader said he would not agree to any temporary resolutions or provisional borders, as part of peace negotiations, and that any deal had to be comprehensive and final.

“Israel must stop violating agreements and commit to them,” he stated. “They should stop settlement activity, ‘Judaization’ activities in Jerusalem that bury its Islamic and Christian religious identity and features, and release prisoners,” he said.

Abbas as well as his Palestinian Liberation Organization have threatened on several occasions over the past year to cut diplomatic and security ties with Israel over the long-frozen peace talks between the sides, but no action has been taken so far.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, saying that his demand that Ramallah recognize Israel as a Jewish state was not a precondition.

Netanyahu, speaking at the Herzliya policy conference, added that although he supports a two-state solution, a future Palestinian state would be demilitarized and Israel would maintain security control of West Bank area.

“I call on President Abbas to return to talks without preconditions,” he declared during a speech at the annual Herzliya Conference.

He added that though Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state was not a precondition for talks, it would form the basis of a lasting agreement.

“The Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state. But they won’t recognize a Jewish state for the Jewish people. That’s what we want. Mutual recognition,” he said.

He complained that Israel had put out it’s hand to the Palestinians, “time after time after time,” but Abbas had been unwilling to engage in talks.

The prime minister said that he remains committed to the principle of two-states for two peoples, but insisted that Israel must maintain security control over the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Herzliya conference on June 9, 2015. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Herzliya conference on June 9, 2015. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Netanyahu warned of the potential threat to Israel of terror tunnels being dug between Kalkilya in the West Bank and Kfar Saba, outside Tel Aviv — apparently in the event of Hamas or other extremist forces gaining control in the West Bank.

“Who will ultimately guarantee that those tunnels are not dug? Who will go in and stop it?” he asked, referring to a scenario in which Israel does not maintain the overall security control upon which he insists.

“What’s going to happen on the other side of the border?” [if Israel pulls out] he asked. “Another terror state, 20 times the size of the Gaza Strip, touching our soft belly,” he warned referring to the close proximity of the West Bank to Israel’s central cities.

“Israel must be strong, it must be very strong, no one will make peace with a weak Israel,” he said in the hour-long speech, in which he switched between English and Hebrew several times.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed after nine months in April 2014 amid mutual recriminations that each side refused to live up to its pre-talks commitments.

Joshua Davidovich and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

 

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