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Abbas: We Support Kerry's Peace Efforts

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas says he supports U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive peace talks with Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/20/2013, 5:15 AM

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
AFP photo

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said he supports U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive peace talks with Israel, AFP reported.

During a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Ramallah, Abbas talked of the PA’s "commitment to the success of Kerry's efforts to save the peace process in order to restart serious talks leading to the end of the occupation and the establishment of a an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” according to the news agency.

As usual, Abbas said the cessation by Israel of "settlement activities and the liberation of prisoners would contribute to creating adequate conditions to launch serious talks,” according to a statement from his office.

Ashton also confirmed the EU's support for U.S. efforts to re-launch the peace process, according to the statement.

Earlier it was reported that the U.S. secretary of state will return to the Middle East on June 27, with a stop in Jordan before making his fifth visit to meet Israeli and PA leaders.

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. On Tuesday, Housing Minister Uri Ariel confirmed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had ordered him to freeze construction bids in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Abbas has insisted on a full construction freeze as one of his endless preconditions for negotiations with Israel. A previous 10-month freeze failed to lure Abbas to the negotiating table; he agreed to talk shortly before the freeze was scheduled to end, but broke off talks immediately when it was not extended.

Abbas is also an expert on “double talk,” presenting himself as a moderate who is willing to negotiate with Israel when talking to Western leaders or being interviewed by Western media outlets, and then turning around and glorifying terrorists on official PA media.

Meanwhile, special Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Wednesday called on Israel to take advantage of this "window of opportunity".

"Let's hope that over the coming weeks a plan can be put in place in which politics, economics and security are aligned. With Secretary John Kerry's fantastic energy and commitment, we're all working hard to accomplish this," Blair said at the annual conference organized by President Shimon Peres, according to AFP.