Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas claims the PA bid for UN recognition as a new Arab country in September will not affect talks with Israel.
Abbas was in Spain as part of his worldwide tour to persuade the international community to support the PA demand for an Arab country in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
In an Arabic-language speech at the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona, Abbas said, “Whatever happens and whatever the reaction and the result of our action in the UN, we know conclusively that we will return to the negotiating table to reach the best solutions with the Israelis,” Abbas said.
The PA leader has refused to negotiate with Israel since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu entered office, with the exception of three meetings essentially forced upon him by the White House just prior to the end of a 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria the PA had demanded as a precondition for talks. Abbas had insisted on another freeze, this one to include a moratorium on building in Jerusalem, in order to continue the negotiation process – a demand that Israel turned down.
“The efforts that we have taken to go to the United Nations in September will not be detrimental to peace nor to negotiations that we want to continue to have,” Abbas claimed in his speech.
However, the PA intends to seek UN recognition of borders according to the temporary 1949 Armistice lines, also known as the pre-1967 lines. As such, the PA is claiming all of Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem for its new country, including areas in which Judaism's holiest sites are located.
During Abbas' visit to Spain, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on Israel and the PA to “work to continue on finding a consensual solution that will allow both sides to resume their dialogue and return to the bargaining table.”
Spain has linked any recognition of PA statehood with efforts by both sides to reach at least the “basic elements” of a final status agreement. Hours earlier, Netanyahu had said in a televised interview with the Arabic-language station Al-Arabiya that Israel was willing to hold immediate talks with the PA.
“I'm prepared to negotiate with president Abbas directly for peace between our two peoples right now,” Netanyahu said. “We can do it here in my home in Jerusalem, we can do it in Ramallah (the PA capital in Samaria), we can do it anywhere.”