Abbas: We Want to Talk, But the Ball is in Israel's Court
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has refused to negotiate with Israel since 2010, said on Tuesday that the "ball is in Israel's court" concerning a resumption of peace talks that the U.S. is pushing for.
"[Secretary of State John] Kerry is exerting strenuous efforts... to come to a solution" to the conflict, Abbas told a news conference in Ramallah, according to the AFP news agency.
"I believe the ball is now in Israel's court. The Palestinian demands are clear, and the Israelis know them as do the Americans, so Israel must now accept them in order to begin negotiations," said Abbas.
The peace talks between Israel and the PA broke down in 2010, because Abbas refused to negotiate with Israel even though it agreed to his precondition and froze construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem for 10 months.
Instead, he has continued to impose preconditions on talks with Israel, including a demand that Israel release terrorists who were jailed before 1993, freeze construction for a second time and even present a map of the future Palestinian state before any negotiations take place.
In recent weeks, Kerry has been pushing the sides to resume peace talks, and recent reports indicated that he has proposed that Israel freeze construction east of the 1949 armistice line so the talks can resume. Prime Minister Netanyahu has not responded to that suggestion.
Kerry is expected to return in Israel and the PA on June 13-15, for what would be his fifth visit to the region since taking office in February.
On Monday, Kerry warned that if efforts to renew peace talk fail now, they may never get another chance.
"We are running out of time. We're running out of possibilities... If we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance," Kerry said at the American Jewish Committee 2013 Global Forum in Washington, D.C.
"We can't let the disappointments of the past hold the future prisoner. We can't let the absence of peace become a self-fulfilling prophecy," the top U.S. diplomat urged in one of his most passionate speeches to date on the search for peace.
"The absence of peace becomes perpetual conflict," he stressed, urging the Jewish forum to reflect on what will happen if his peace bid does not work.
The PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday, according to AFP, "All I want to do now is to focus on how to make Kerry succeed. I don't want to speculate on his failure."