Abbas voices frustration over Israel peace talks

Last Updated: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 00:20

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is stalling over the indirect talks with the
Palestinians, president Mahmud Abbas charged in remarks
published by several Israeli newspapers on Thursday.

"We haven`t received from Netanyahu even a single sign
that might indicate progress" in the US-backed proximity
talks, Abbas was quoted as saying by the Maariv daily.
"He has completely ignored everything we`ve raised," the
paper quoted him as saying in comments made to Israeli
journalists from four newspapers who spent the evening at his
West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

The indirect talks, which began on May 9 and are
scheduled to take four months, are regarded as a first step
towards renewing direct negotiations which collapsed in
December 2008 when Israel launched a devastating 22-day
offensive on Gaza.

Abbas said that the core issues being discussed at the
talks with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell were borders
and security -- issues on which an agreement was crucial if
the two sides were to begin direct talks.

"As soon as there is progress we`ll shift to direct
talks, but up until now we haven`t received even a single sign
that might indicate progress on those issues," he said.

His remarks were reiterated today during talks in
Ramallah with Mitchell, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

"President Abbas told Mitchell there would not be any
move to direct negotiations without progress on the questions
of security and borders, and in particular, without Israel
recognising the borders of the Palestinian lands it occupied
in 1967," Erakat said.

Abbas also insisted Israel put an end to the demolition
of Palestinian homes in Arab east Jerusalem and stop its
practice of revoking ID cards of those living in the occupied
and annexed sector of the Holy City, Erakat said.
Abbas` three-hour interview with the Israeli press,
which included dinner, was portrayed in the newspapers as an
attempt to appeal directly to the Israeli public in the
absence of concrete progress in the negotiations.

"Now I tell you Israelis -- don`t miss the opportunity
the Arab League has offered you with its peace initiative," he
was quoted as saying by the Haaretz daily. "Don`t let me lose
hope."

The so-called Arab peace initiative, which was presented
by Saudi Arabia in 2002, offers Israel full normalisation of
ties in return for its withdrawal from occupied Arab land and
the creation of a Palestinian state.

Abbas also said he had reached a number of significant
agreements on borders and security with former premier Ehud
Olmert with the two drawing up a number of maps and documents
-- all of which had been passed on to Mitchell.

PTI



First Published: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 00:20

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