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Abbas Under Pressure for Direct Talks

The PA is under intense pressure to agree to direct talks, chairman Mahmoud Abbas admits.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/26/2010, 12:11 PM / Last Update: 7/26/2010, 4:03 PM

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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is under intense international pressure to begin holding direct talks with Israel, he told members of his Fatah party during a recent conference. A senior PA member revealed Abbas' admission to the pan-Arab paper Al-Quds al-Arabi.

The source said Abbas is under pressure from “several Western countries,” which the source did not identify. The countries are able to bring heavy pressure to bear on the PA due to the fact that aid they provide makes up much of the PA's annual budget, he explained.

Abbas will not make a decision on direct talks until meeting with the Arab League's Follow-Up Committee on Thursday in Cairo. The committee includes representatives from 14 Arab countries, among them Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as the PA.

By opening direct talks between Israel and the PA, the Western powers hope to push Israel into a corner and force concessions, the source claimed.

Abbas has refused to begin direct talks unless Israel agrees to pre-conditions, among them a full construction freeze for Jews living east of the 1949 armistice line, including those living in north, south, or east Jerusalem or the historic basin. Another demand is for talks on the borders of a future PA state to be based on the armistice line, with any land that is annexed to Israel replaced by land from within Israel's 1948 borders.

Yet another PA demand is for negotiations on security-related matters to pick up where Abbas left off talks with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The content of negotiations between Abbas and the former prime minister was not made public, but is believed to have included many significant Israeli concessions.