Abbas: Agree on Borders First, then Hold Direct Talks
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas revealed Thursday that he does not intend to hold direct negotiations with Israeli leaders until Israel and the PA have reached a United States-mediated final agreement regarding the borders of a future PA state. Those borders must include Jerusalem as the capital, he added.
"It is the aim of negotiations to lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said at a press conference in Malaysia. The PA chairman is currently on a tour of Asia.
Israel and the PA should also resolve the issue of security in the current US-brokered 'proximity' talks before moving to direct talks, he said. Abbas told his audience that he is planning a trip to the US in the near future to meet with President Barack Obama and discuss the peace process.
He expressed hope that the current indirect talks would lead to an agreement regarding borders and security within four months, the deadline set by the Arab League.
The subject of borders, and the PA's demand for Jerusalem in particular, is widely considered one of the most hotly disputed issues in Israel-PA negotiations. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has categorically refused to split Jerusalem, saying, “Jerusalem was always ours, will always be ours, and will never again be divided.”
Other “core issues” include the PA's demand that Jewish Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria be forcibly removed, and not allowed to remain in their homes as PA citizens, and that Arabs descended from those who fled Israel during the War of Independence – which Arabs initiated and lost – be granted Israeli citizenship.