by Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israelis in it.
“We have frankly said, and always will say, if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.
He was commenting on unconfirmed reports that suggested that the PA leadership might agree to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
“We are ready to go to peace on the basis of international legitimacy and the road map, which we have accepted, as well as the Arab peace initiative,” Abbas said. “But when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it.”
Abbas criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and accused him of placing obstacles on the road to peace. “He who prefers settlements over peace is responsible for the obstacles to peace,” he added. “If he really was interested in peace, he would have at least preferred peace to settlements.”
Abbas accused the Israeli government of “deception” with the purpose of blaming the Palestinians for the current impasse in the peace talks. He also criticized the US Administration for failing to put pressure on Israel to stop the construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem.
“The US Administration has tried to stop the settlements, but Netanyahu refused,” he said. “We know that there’s a clear American position, but these days we don’t hear it any more. We hope we will hear it in the future.”
Abbas said that the PA has presented in writing to the US its position regarding all the core issues in writing, but have still not heard Israel’s reply. “All the final-status issues must be solved according to international resolutions,” he said. “All these issues will be resolved at the negotiating table, and this includes the issue of the refugees, which Israel tried to get rid of, but to no avail.”
On Friday night, Abbas met in Bethlehem with members of the tiny Christian community in the Gaza Strip who received permission from Israel to travel to the West Bank for Christmas.
Abbas expressed hope that his Fatah faction and Hamas would be able to resolve their differences so that the Gaza Strip would be part of the future Palestinian state. He also voiced hope that he would be able to travel to the Gaza Strip in the near future.
Abbas also hailed South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador, which have recognized a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. He said that the Palestinians were now hoping that other countries, especially the EU, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan, would follow suit and declare their recognition of a Palestinian state.
“The whole world is now with us,” Abbas stated. “These countries have recognized us because they love peace and want to support peace.”
Khaled Abu Toameh
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