Abbas Says He's Ready to Talk, Sets Preconditions
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday again insisted Israel freeze all construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem as a precondition negotiations, the PA-run WAFA news agency reported.
Claiming to be ready to "resume negotiations with Israel" while meeting with a US delegation in Ramallah Abbas added the "peace process' caveat emptor was Israel's refusal to stop settlement activities or implement the Road Map's benchmarks for peace.
Abbas refused to negotiate during the US-brokered 10 month building freeze Israel agreed to in the vain hope of bringing the Abbas to the table.
The meeting, attended by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubenstein was intended to determine the implications of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement.
Abbas briefed the delegation on the reconciliation agreement signed recently in Cairo as well as efforts for forming a new government.
Abbas said that this government will follow the PLO`s political platform, stressing the PA is committed to the peace process.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently characterized the PLO charter as "not very promising."
A sampling of the PLO charter's contents includes,
- The so-called right of the "Palestinian people" to practice armed struggle as an "inalienable right" under international law.
- A call for the awakening of the popular struggle against the settlements.
- Maintaining the "refugee camps" even though doing so is illegal under international law.
- No compromise on the so-called "right of return."
- The assertion a "Jewish state" is racist while declaring a PA state will be an "Islamic state."
- The restoration the PA's relationship with the direct and powerful Israeli peace camp.
- Taking the "option" of adhering to peace without regarding it as an obligation.
Hamas, which most observers expect to win the next PA elections, has flatly ruled out the PLO platform as a basis for the next government and maintains resistance is the only option and any peace agreement would only serve as a prelude to war.