Abbas willing to restart Israel talks

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Colombia said he was willing "at any moment" to restart peace negotiations with Israel aimed at a settlement that allows them to exist side by side as states.

Bogota: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Colombia said he was willing "at any moment" to restart peace negotiations with Israel aimed at a settlement that allows them to exist side by side as states.

"We are in favor of peaceful negotiations leading to the
creation of a Palestinian state, alongside the state of
Israel," Abbas said in Bogota, where he is on a Latin American
tour to rally support for UN recognition.

"We are at any moment willing to return to the
negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind," he said,
during an event where he was declared an honorary citizen of
Bogota by the city`s mayor.

The Middle East Quartet (United States, Russia, United
Nations and the European Union) has called for a resumption of
negotiations.

Israel on Sunday accepted with reservations a plan
proposed by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, while the Palestinians
have said there will be no negotiations until Israel freezes
settlement -- a demand they say is written into the Quartet
proposal.

The Palestinian leader is due Tuesday to hold talks with
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has previously
said that Bogota, which has a seat on the UN Security Council,
would abstain in a vote on recognition of statehood.

Israel on September 27 approved a plan to build 1,100 new
homes in a Jewish settlement, prompting an angry reaction from
the Palestinians who said it amounted to a direct rejection of
international efforts to restart peace talks.

Colombia has argued that recognition of a Palestinian
state should come through negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinian move for UN recognition is strongly
opposed by both Israel and the United States, which say a
Palestinian state can only emerge through bilateral
negotiations.

Six Security Council members -- Brazil, China, India,
Lebanon, Russia and South Africa -- have publicly indicated
their backing for the Palestinian bid.

PTI

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