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Alongside Biden, Abbas ‘extends hand’ to Israel to restart peace talks; says Palestinians ‘are not terrorists’

US President Joe Biden (left) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speak after their statements to the media at the Muqataa Presidential Compound in the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank on July 15, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden (left) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speak after their statements to the media at the Muqataa Presidential Compound in the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank on July 15, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

At a press conference in Bethlehem with US President Joe Biden, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls for a two-state solution and greater efforts to establish a Palestinian state.

“We have expressed the importance of re-establishing the foundations of what the peace process was based on, the two-state solution on the 1967 borders,” Abbas says in Arabic simultaneously translated into English.

“After 74 of nakba, displacement and occupation, isn’t it time for the occupation to end, and for our steadfast people to again gain their freedom and independence?” Abbas asks, urging an end to “the Israeli occupation of our land — the land of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The “key to securing peace in our region begins with the recognition of the State of Palestine,” Abbas adds.

Abbas says the Palestinians “want the US consulate to be reopened in East Jerusalem,” as well as the US to remove the PLO from the US terrorist list — “We are not terrorists,” he says — and to reopen the PLO office in Washington. “We are ready to work in a framework of partnership and cooperation to achieve that.”

Abbas protests what he says is Israel’s “racial discrimination and apartheid against our people,” urges an end to settlements and settler violence, and cites Israeli expulsion of Palestinians, demolitions of homes and “storming of cities.” He also calls on Israel to “respect the historical situation in the Islamic and Christian holy sites and the Hashemite custodianship.”

He also references the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and calls for Israel to be “held accountable.”

Only with the establishment of a Palestinian state, he says, will “Israel be accepted to live in peace, security and good neighborhood with the countries of the region.”

“The opportunity for a two-state solution on the 1967 borders may only be available today, we don’t know what will happen in the future,” Abbas says. “I take this opportunity to say I extend my hand to the leaders of Israel to make peace,” on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.

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