Marking ‘setback,’ Abbas demands full Israeli withdrawal to ’67 lines
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Marking ‘setback,’ Abbas demands full Israeli withdrawal to ’67 lines

In Jerusalem Day message, PA president says Palestinian people will not settle for anything less than independent state with East Jerusalem as capital

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016 (AP/Majdi Mohammed, File)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016 (AP/Majdi Mohammed, File)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the Palestinian people will not accept anything less than a full Israeli withdrawal from territories Israel captured in the 1967 war and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas spoke as Israelis marked 49 years since the capture of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, a date observed by Palestinians as the Naksa, or “setback,” and days after dozens of countries convened to push for a renewed Israeli Palestinian peace effort.

“Our nation will not agree in any way to less than a full end to the Israeli occupation that began in June 1967 and the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” Abbas said in a statement.

“The Palestinian leadership adheres to the principle of a two-state solution. The Palestinian side rejects any attempt to alter the Arab [peace] initiative,” he added.

Israel took control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, which broke out on June 5.

Israel later annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized by the international community. The future status of Jerusalem is among the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Friday, representatives of 28 countries met in Paris for a conference aimed at jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. In a statement, the group called for a peace summit by the end of the year and trust-building measures between the sides after months of increased tensions.

At the same time Israel, which opposes the Paris effort, says it is pursuing avenues toward the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the creation of a Palestinian state in exchange for ties with Arab countries.

Ramallah says it backs both efforts.

Marking Naksa Day, Abbas said that “our people today in memory [of the June setback] are more insistent and determined to achieve their goals, and gain their legitimate national rights, particularly the right to freedom and independence, and the establishment of their independent state, with its capital in East Jerusalem, the liberation of all prisoners, and to maintain our national symbols, and holy places.”

Tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis marched through the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, waving Israeli flags under heavy police guard Sunday afternoon, to mark Jerusalem Day.

 

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