Abbas rejects settlement freeze that excludes Jerusalem

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Sunday that he would not return to the negotiating table with Israel without a settlement freeze that included annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

From right to left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak talks to Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010.

"If it does not encompass Jerusalem, in other words if there is not a complete freeze on settlement in all the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem, we will not accept it," Abbas told reporters after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"If Israel wants to return to its settlement activities, then we can't go on. A settlement freeze must include all of the Palestinian territories and above all Jerusalem," Abbas added.

In talks last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put together a package of incentives to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a fresh 90-day moratorium on new settlement building in a bid to get stalled peace talks with the Palestinians back on track.

But the proposal does not include east Jerusalem and Netanyahu has baulked at bringing the deal to his security cabinet until he receives the US pledges in writing.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Friday that Washington was ready to provide the "understandings in writing."

David Hale, assistant to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, briefed Abbas on details of the plan at a meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah last week.

But the Palestinian leader said on Sunday that there was still no firm plan from Washington.

"So far nothing official has come out of the US administration, either to us or to the Israelis, that we can comment on," he said.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed on September 2 but collapsed three weeks later with the expiry of a 10-month Israeli freeze on settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas has refused to rejoin the talks until a new moratorium is imposed.

Source: AFP

Other news