Sirte (Libya): Palestinian president Mahmud
Abbas ruled out US-brokered indirect talks with Israel unless
the Jewish state changes its settlement policy, in a speech to
Arab leaders on Saturday.
"We cannot resume indirect negotiations as long as Israel
maintains its settlement policy and the status quo," Abbas
said at the opening of a two-day Arab summit in the Libyan
city of Sirte.
Abbas demanded a "complete halt to all Israeli
practices," particularly in annexed east Jerusalem, the sector
which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future
"Negotiations on the borders (of a future state) would be
absurd if Israel decides on the ground the border," said the
Palestinian leader, in reference to Israeli actions aimed at
creating facts on the ground.
"We have always said that Jerusalem is the jewel in the
crown and the gate to peace," Abbas said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, also in a speech at Sirte, earlier
urged Arab leaders to help facilitate indirect "proximity"
talks and stressed that Jerusalem "should emerge from
negotiations as the capital of two states."
Israel angered the world community when it announced
plans earlier this month to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish
settlers in mainly Arab east Jerusalem.
Abbas went on to accuse Israel of trying to alter the
identify of Jerusalem with "ethnic cleansing on a daily basis"
and warned that such practices would lead to "wars in the