Abbas: No Jerusalem, No Peace
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told a delegation on Saturday that there will be "no peace between us and Israel" without eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, the Ma’an news agency reported.
Speaking to a delegation from Jerusalem in his office in Ramallah, Abbas highlighted that the Arab Follow-up Committee would reiterate this stance during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday.
"He will be told that occupied East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, and without this there will be no peace between us and Israel," Abbas declared.
The current round of negotiations has been limited to nine months after which "we are free to do whatever we want," he said, highlighting that, "the time frame is limited and not open, and our unanimous position isn't secret."
Abbas added that he heard that the Israelis had refused to mention Jerusalem in any talks or negotiations.
"Let them say whatever they say. Unless it is mentioned clearly and marked in big fonts that it is the capital of the state of Palestine, there will be no peace with them and I want them to hear this," he declared, according to Ma’an.
On Friday it was reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had announced to senior officials in his government that he won't agree to any division of Jerusalem in framework agreements.
Sources previously revealed that Kerry's proposals would divide the capital under international management.
Netanyahu has claimed he won't sign any document which in any way allows the establishment of a PA capital in Jerusalem, no matter the price to peace talks, according to Haaretz reports Friday morning.
Responding to this, Abbas told the visitors, "Our language is understandable. We have been hearing lots of talks about the capital here and there. The capital is Jerusalem and its surroundings in Jerusalem which were occupied in 1967."
Abbas highlighted that he is adhering to a stance that has long been official policy.
"We have a right even though we are weak in the world. We will continue to demand our rights and we will realize them," he was quoted by Ma’an as having said.
Abbas added that the whole world had started to "know and understand our grievances and pains" and that European countries have started to support the “Palestinian cause” by boycotting products from Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
He also denied that an agreement had been reached between the two sides to allow Israel to build in Judea and Samaria when a group of terrorists is released from Israeli jails.
"The Israelis link between prisoners and settlements. When a group is released, they build settlement units and claim this has been agreed on," he charged, adding, "These are lies as there is definitely no relation between releasing prisoners and settlements. Settlements are illegal from the beginning to the end."
On Friday, the Israel Land Authority and Ministry of Construction and Housing announced the publication of tenders marketing land in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for construction.
The planned property set aside for construction in Judea and Samaria includes a total of 801 new housing units.
As expected, this announcement angered the PA, whose chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “The new settlement construction is a message from Netanyahu to Kerry not to come back to the region to continue his efforts in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks."
"Every time Kerry has stepped up his efforts, returning to the region (for more talks), Netanyahu has stepped up his efforts to destroy the peace process," complained Erekat. "Netanyahu is determined to destroy the two-state solution. It is high time we held Israel accountable for its crimes."
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the Israeli announcement “reflects Israel's insistence on sabotaging U.S. efforts to reach peace based on the two-state formula.”
Previous announcements on construction have also raised the ire of the PA, which demanded that Israel cancel any tenders it has issued for new construction or the talks would be over.
The PA has repeatedly slammed Israel’s planned construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, despite the fact that it was informed in advance that Israel will continue to build as talks continue. The areas in which Israel plans to build are areas that even the PA has previously accepted will be part of Israel in a future deal.