Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a partner for peace on Monday, but repeated his demand that Netanyahu choose “between peace and settlements.”
Abbas, who spoke before the parliament in Tunisia and was quoted in a report in the Israeli Ma’ariv newspaper, said, “I choose you, Netanyahu, because you are our partner for peace.”
He was responding to recent remarks by Netanyahu, in which he responded to an agreement signed by Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas, and said the Palestinian Authority "can't have it both ways."
Continuing to address Netanyahu, Abbas said, “It was God's will that you are the prime minister of Israel and I have to work with you. But you have to choose between settlements and peace; those who want peace do not think about settlements.”
“Netanyahu's position about the reconciliation [with Hamas] is not important to us,” added Abbas. “What matters to us is our basic interest, that the Palestinian territories and the Palestinian people will be united.”
Abbas was repeating his previous conditions for negotiations, which he has consistently done since Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009. The PA is demanding that Israel recognize a Palestinian state along the indefensible pre-1967 borders with equal territorial swaps and cessation of construction of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem.
Peace talks between Israel and the PA have been frozen since Jordan hosted a series of “exploratory meetings” between Erekat and Molcho. The PA refused to continue to talk after those meetings and went even further by threatening to cancel all agreements signed after 2000 if Israel does not agree to all its demands before peace talks.
A PA delegation recently handed Netanyahu a letter from Abbas which repeats the same demands.
In his speech Abbas addressed the PA’s effort to achieve recognition as a state by the United Nations and said, “We are ready to negotiate while we approach the United Nations. It does not contradict negotiations, because you cannot give up on negotiations to discuss the details of the issues between us and the Israelis. Those cannot be resolved in the UN.”