Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday rebuffed Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas who had travelled to Bogotá to secure support of his unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations.
"We want the Palestinian state to exist. But this can only come as the result of a (UN) vote or resolution. It must be the product of negotiations (between Israelis and Palestinians) because this is the only way to achieve peace," Santos said after meeting Abbas in Bogota.
Santos also offered to provide Colombian mediation of the crisis, noting that he had discussed the proposal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Colombia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, where Abbas needs at least nine votes out of 15 - including positive recommendations from all five permanent members - for his statehood application to be accepted by the world body.
Abbas, in turn, said the PLO was "ready to return immediately to the negotiating table," but reiterated his precondition that Israel first freeze construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem.
Abbas has thrown up preconditions as a fait acommpli to forestall negotiations for almost two years, refusing to come to the table, even when Israel did freeze construction for 10-months to meet his demands. Instead, Abbas added additional preconditions.
PLO officials have, in addition to Abbas' present demand, said Israel must also recognize the pre-1967 borders as a basis of negotiations before talks can begin.
Israel, which has accepted terms laid down by the Quartet for Middle East Peace - the European Union, Russia, United States, and United Nations - to resume talks without preconditions says the two sides should address their reservations at the negotiating table.
Abbas is due to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday in Paris to discuss his now-stalled statehood bid at the UN. France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
But some observers say – with a negative recommendation in the Security Council promised by the United States, itself a permanent member of the council – that Abbas' concerted media blitz and world tour in lieu of negotiations amounts to tilting at windmills.