Speaking in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas said that the United States had promised him that it would support the PA's demands that Israel withdraw to the 1948 cease-fire lines as the basis for any final status agreement with Israel. The statement shoots down claims by Israeli officials, such as President Shimon Peres, that the PA had agreed to Israel's retention of the so-called “settlement blocs.”
In the speech Monday night, Abbas stressed that the U.S. had made this promise to the PA before the start of negotiations. Without it, he said, the PA would not have agreed to participate in the talks.
Israel has said that it had did not agree to any preconditions in order to enter the talks. The recent release of terrorists by Israel was not fulfillment of a preconditions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said, but a “gesture” to encourage the PA to enter into talks. Netanyahu also said that in any final status agreement, Israel would retain the settlement blocs.
Israel agreed to release about 100 terrorists, many of whom had planned or participated in the murder of Jews. Abbas said in his speech that the PA would demand that Israel release an additional 250 terrorists as a condition for continuing the negotiations. Abbas added that the PA had shelved plans to charge Israel with “war crimes” in the World Court after Israel agreed to release the terrorists.
Earlier, Peres praised the Oslo Accords, declaring them a great success and the right thing for Israel. In an interview on Army Radio, Peres praised the accords as “the right decision,” one which led to a “great revolution.”