'No US concession on full settlement freeze for Israel talks'

Abbas will not accept any U.S. concession to resume talks if no total freeze to ongoing Jewish settlements, an aide said.

'No US concession on full settlement freeze for Israel talks'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not accept any U.S. move to resume talks if Obama makes a concession to Israel over call for total freeze to ongoing Jewish settlements on the occupied lands, an aide said on Monday.

World Court ruled Jewish settlements were illegal on occupied Palestinian territories according to international law. The United States and European Union regard them as obstacles to peace.

Nabil Shaath said only a full settlement freeze without exceptions or loopholes and an Israeli commitment to establishing a Palestinian state would be enough to bring Abbas back to the negotiating table.

Shaath told foreign correspondents in Ramallah the reaffirmed position of the central committee of Abbas's Fatah party was that a halt to Jewish settlement must be implemented throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem and not be limited by artificial timeframes.

He said the only time limit Palestinians would accept was that the freeze could be temporary but must last until a final peace settlement was agreed on.

U.S. President Barack Obama demands a complete freeze of all Israeli building on the occupied West Bank, but the Netanyahu government has insisted on ongoing constructions.

Political sources have said such exemptions might include building in East Jerusalem, completing projects already under way, or the "natural growth" of existing settlements.

Shaath, who was re-elected in August to Fatah's central committee and is a former Palestinian prime minister and foreign minister, dismissed claims that Abbas would have to return to negotiations even if Obama was unable to achieve total end to the ongoing Jewish settlements.

George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, will meet Israeli officials later this week to discuss the issue.

Asked what the Palestinian leadership would say if Obama asked them to negotiate on the basis of a limited settlement freeze, Shaath said: "I would say, Mr Obama, we love you ... but I am sorry this is not enough to bring us to the peace process."

Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier "state".

Solana visit

The European Union foreign policy chief, was in Israel on Monday for talks aimed at restarting the peace process, which has been stalled since Israel launnched a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in December.

Solana is on a four-day tour of the region, which began on Sunday with a visit to Syria.

In Damascus, he met Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to discuss "ways of reviving the peace process," according to the state-run Sana news agency.

Al-Assad said that he would support peace with Israel if it met the conditions of UN Security Council resolutions which call on it to withdraw from areas occupied in the 1967 war, including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

"Syria is working for a fair and global peace based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338," the Sana news agency quotes al-Assad as saying.

Solana will meet Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, in Ramallah later on Monday, before heading to Lebanon and Egypt.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Ağustos 2009, 15:01