Israel: Abbas speech is death blow to negotiations
Senior official in Jerusalem says PA head repeated demands he knows Israel won’t accept
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas administered a death blow to the peace process in a speech Saturday in which he repeated his conditions for extending talks, a senior Israeli official said.
In remarks to the PLO’s Central Council, Abbas said talks could continue if Israel freezes settlement construction, frees prisoners and begins discussion on the borders of a promised Palestinian state.
Abbas “administered the coup de grace to the peace process today,” the official said. He “recycled the same conditions, after he already knows Israel won’t accept them.”
Abbas was speaking three days after a reconciliation deal with the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and which is pledged to the destruction of Israel.
He stressed that the new unity government he would head under that agreement would reject violence and recognize Israel and existing agreements. And he stressed that the new government would not be charged with negotiations, but rather the PLO.
On Thursday, Israel said it would not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and has always rejected peace talks.
The official said the Palestinian alliance came “while Israel was making sincere efforts to advance negotiations with the Palestinians.”
The Israeli official blamed Abbas of “time and again” thwarting Israeli and US efforts to extend talks, until “violating existent agreements by unilaterally applying to the UN conventions.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.