Abbas: Willing to Resume Negotiations, But...

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: I'm willing to resume peace negotiations...but only if Israel makes an encouraging offer.

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Elad Benari,

Abbas and Ban Ki-moon
Abbas and Ban Ki-moon
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said that he would be willing to resume negotiations with Israel, but conditioned it on Israel submitting “an encouraging and helpful proposal that can be built upon.”

The Hebrew-language Ma’ariv newspaper reported that Abbas made the comments at a press conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after the two met in Ramallah.

During the press conference Abbas stressed that as far as he is concerned, the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is “establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders [1949 armistice lines –ed.] and ending Israeli presence in occupied lands, including the Jordan Valley.”

Abbas added that the PA has a number of alternatives for negotiations, which he said he will discuss with the foreign ministers of the Arab League during their meeting on Saturday.

Ban, who began his remarks in Arabic, praised Abbas for his “state-building efforts.” Referring to the peace process, Ban said it was time to establish a viable Palestinians state.

“I continue to believe that the two-state solution is achievable through negotiations,” Ban was quoted by Ma’ariv as having said. He later met with the PA’s Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ban met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and asked Israel to reinstate the freeze on all construction in Jewish communities in the region, saying at a news conference it was “not helpful” to the peace process.

But Netanyahu noted out that any discussion about a freeze on construction -- or any other action taken by Israel to move the peace process forward -- should come in context of the process itself, rather than as a precondition.

"This issue is part of the negotiations," he told Ban. "It can't be a precondition."

Netanyahu added pointedly that "settlements are not the crux of the conflict, but rather, one of its outcomes. The conflict started 50 years before there were settlements."