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WEST BANK: Abbas still waiting for U.S. answers on Israeli settlements

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday took the opportunity of laying the cornerstone for the new presidential headquarters just north of the West Bank city of Ramallah to tell the world that he was still waiting for U.S. answers regarding an Israeli settlement freeze that would pave the way for resuming direct negotiations.

However, he said, the answer may come as early as Thursday.

“We did not yet receive the official U.S. answers on stopping settlements,” Abbas said. “Maybe we will hear something official tomorrow."

If Israel accepts a freeze, "we are ready" to restart talks, he said. "If not, we will say this option is over and we will search for an alternative.”

The U.S. has been holding intensive talks with Israel to get it to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank for three months in return for hefty incentives. Israel has not agreed.

“We are waiting,” Abbas said.

He said that if talks resumed, they would focus on borders and security. “We will mark the borders and then we will continue in the negotiations,” he said.

Abbas said that although negotiations remained his main choice, “if efforts to resume negotiations fail, we will look for alternatives, which are all peaceful. We will not at all agree that the lowest-costing occupation in the world remains sitting on our chests.”

“We are ready to have the Palestinian state,” he said. “Is Israel ready to accept this state next to it, not in its place? We have agreed to build a state that will live side by side with the state of Israel in stability and security. We do not want less than that and we are not asking for more.”

Abbas said he would not accept a Palestinian state with provisional borders on 50% or 60% of the area of the West Bank as offered by Israel.

“If we accept that,” he said, “then they will become permanent borders. We will never agree to that.”

Abbas said the WikiLeaks documents “are scandalous.”

However, he added, “not a single thing in the notes incriminates us. Let the entire world know that what we tell the Americans or Israel we say at the [Fatah] Central Council and we say it everywhere. We had nothing to fear.”

One of the documents revealed that Israel informed Abbas of its intention to wage a war on Gaza at the end of 2008, asking him whether he was ready to take over the coastal strip after Israel defeats the Islamist Hamas movement, which had been in control of the Gaza Strip since June 2007. Abbas rejected the Israeli offer.

“We had nothing to worry from what was leaked about the aggression against Gaza,” he said. “What we told them was honorable.”

The new presidential headquarters will be completed in 18 months. It will be built on a 10-acre lot in a small town just north of Ramallah. It will include a four-floor presidential building, a guesthouse, helipad, military camp and green area. It will replace the current headquarters, known as the Muqata, which was built during the British mandate early last century and was used by Abbas and his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat.

However, Palestinian officials insist that the new headquarters is temporary until the Palestinians regain control of East Jerusalem, which will become the capital of their new state and the base of their government.

As for the current presidential compound, it will most likely be turned into a museum encompassing the Arafat burial site, his office and bedroom and all his belongings. The museum was supposed to have been completed this year, but for some reason it was postponed.

-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah

Comments () | Archives (6)

Palestinians will not even recognize Israel's right to exist..
How can you make peace with that?

Palestinian negotiation tactics include waiting till the 9th month of a 10 month building moratorium goodwill gesture to begin their end of talks; to insist that the war started and lost by Arabs more than 40 years ago has little consequence as to the current situation; to insist that the war started and lost by Arabs over 60 years ago has little consequence on the current situation; and then to cry and complain to the world that America gives Israel preferential treatment, no doubt a consequence of all the Joos in Congress, the White House, and Western media.

One would think at some point these negotiation tactics need to be re-addressed by the side wanting their own state and government. That is, if one happens to be rooted in reality, which apparently Abbas and the people who run him are not. And why should they be? Arafat died a billionaire and he didn't work a day in his life. (Unless masterminding terror attacks and convincing kids to blow themselves up on bus lines is considered work.)

If the head of the PLO and PA wanted to pursue peace through direct talks without preconditions - something he, the Obama White House and Israel had agreed - he would simply come to the table and bring up for discussion all the "core issues" the parties were to discuss in direct negotiations, without preconditions.

Abbas's instance, after only two sessions of talks, that preconditions are a must with regard to at least one of the "core issues" is indicative of where Abbas's heart and mind are: In the perpetuation of the conflict, from which of course he benefits.

It is time the Obama White House, despite its naivete mixed with arrogance, lack of knowledge of the region and the expertise to deal with it, faced reality instead of operating based on wishful thinking grounded in the world outlook of Rev. J. Wright and Min. L. Farakhan and the likes of Profs. E. Said and R. Khalidi.

A way to break the ice, really, is to expect Abbas to come and simply state the obvious, directly and simply, in Arabic, Hebrew and English: Yes, we accept Israel's RIGHT to be, to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and that on historic grounds as well as ethical and legal ones.

Will the Obama White House have the wisdom to demand of Abbas to make such as statement...??

And if not, why...??

Why would Abbas be waiting on the US as far as the freeze is concerned? He will wait through the next century, It is Israel who he needs to wait on.. They will make that decision and not on the Jerusalem building No one will tell Israel not to build in their won capital.. Besides, They need to get it into their heads that Ramella will be the Capital of any Palestinian state if it ever gets to that.. The demands of the Palestinians are ridiculous. They are grabbing at straws and will never be solved as far as the Palestinian Gov is concerned. Recognizing the Jewish state of Israel is a good start. That in it's self will never happen so how does any country have any agreement with someone who does not recognize their right to exist?

Israel will only agree to a 3 month cessation of its illegal construction in Palestinian territories if President Obama agrees to take military action against Iran. If Obama agrees America will open another war front. The Palestinians continue their peace negotiations. Israel reneges on their promise. The Palestinians walk and they have no state. America is neck deep in yet another Middle East war. Israel cries it has "no partner for peace" and keeps East Jerusalem and all of the West Bank. It's a win/win for Israel and everyone else is screwed. Typical.


So, what wrong with Mr. Abbas latest proposal? It sounds pretty good to me.


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