Abbas: Peace is Possible, but Stop Occupying
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that peace between Israel and the PA is "still possible", but continued to accuse Israel of “occupying Palestinian lands”.
The AFP news agency reported that in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Abbas called on Israel to "end the occupation of our lands", evacuate Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and free PA Arab terrorist prisoners. These are the same preconditions he has imposed for years on peace talks with Israel.
"This is what will make peace and ensure security for you and for us," Abbas said, according to AFP.
He praised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest efforts to revive peace negotiations with Israel, which stalled nearly three years ago when Abbas refused to come to the table despite Israel freezing construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem for ten months.
"Recently, we have seen concrete actions and tangible attempts to restart the peace process through the efforts of U.S. secretary Kerry, and that brings us hope," said Abbas.
Kerry urged Israeli and PA leaders on Friday to take "hard decisions" to revive the Middle East peace process.
"We're getting toward a time now when hard decisions need to be made," he told a news conference in Tel Aviv at the end of his fourth visit to the region since he took office in February.
Kerry said there was "one way" to make peace a reality, "and that is through direct negotiations.
On Thursday Kerry met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said that Israel was very interested in reopening negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
A spokesperson in the Prime Minister's office said that the discussions were “positive,” and that Israel had urged Kerry to do what he could to convince the PA to return to the negotiating table.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat this past week backed Kerry’s efforts, and then accused Israel of applying a policy of apartheid in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
"Today in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem ... I can sum up the situation with one word - apartheid. Worse than that which existed in South Africa," Erekat told a UN committee, adding, "Today Israel justifies its apartheid by the term security."
PA leaders have long accused Israel of “apartheid” policies, even though they themselves have clarified that if a Palestinian state is ever established, no Israeli citizen will be allowed to set foot inside.
At the same time they have demanded that Israel allow millions of descendants of Arabs who fled their homes in 1948 to enter Israel as part of a peace agreement.