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Abbas Expresses 'Hope' for Amman Confab

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas expressed 'hope' peace talks could be restarted while maintaining fait accompli preconditions
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/3/2012, 9:14 PM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he hoped a conference between Israeli and PA envoys would jump-start the moribund peace process.

"God willing, results of this meeting will be revealed in the coming two days, and based on that we will set the suitable grounds for resuming negotiations," Abbas told reporters.

"This would be positive, and we hope Jordan will succeed," he added.

"The Palestinian demand is well-known, which is for the Israelis to accept the identified references for the peace process, and to stop settlement expansion. If that happens, we will be ready to resume negotiations," Abbas said.

Israel previously froze construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months to meet Abbas' demands for restarting talks only to have him add more preconditions - namely using the pre-1967 lines as a basis for peace talks and the release of all terrorists from Israel's prisons.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is willing to restart negotiations without preconditions from either side in accordance with a Quartet plan calling for the resumption of talks with decisions on final status issues by 31 December 2012.

Israeli officials maintain PA conditions are a fait accompli aimed at forestalling talks that would require leaders in Ramallah to make hard compromises they refuse to prepare their people for.

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is in the Jordanian capital Amman for talks with Israeli delegate Yitzhak Molcho and representatives of the international Quartet, but officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah have downplayed the meeting.

"This is not a resumption of negotiations," PLO official Wasl Abu Yossef told Reuters in Ramallah.

"We should not impose on this meeting a heavy load," Erekat himself said. "I do not know if the Israeli side is bringing anything new, or if they are willing to put their position on the table".

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on the Palestinian Authority to boycott Tuesday's meeting, saying it was "repeating a policy of failure."

"The only beneficiary (of the summit) will be the Israeli occupation," he said.

Israeli cabinet minister Dan Meridor said. "There is an opening to renew negotiations... We must hope that things will work out but it does not depend only on us."

President Shimon Peres gave a patently stark assessment of the Erekat-Molcho meeting saying it was "doomed."

A Quartet diplomat in Amman agreed Tuesday's meeting was unlikely to result in a breakthrough.

"To be realistic, it won't solve anything, (although) it could give new energy" the diplomat said.

Just yesterday Abbas said “all options” were on the table if Israel didn’t capitulate in Amman.