Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of the Arab League in Doha that he would be prepared to renew negotiations with Israel if a number of conditions were met.
Israel’s government has repeatedly stated that it is willing to address all issues with Abbas at any time, so long as there are no preconditions to the negotiations. However, speaking yesterday, Abbas specified that a six-month settlement freeze would be able to re-start talks. Abbas indicated that such a move could lead to talks beginning where they left off with Ehud Olmert’s government in 2008. Abbas said, “If this happens, there could be feasible negotiations. Also, we could return to the point where we stopped during the era of Ehud Olmert’s government, when we put all the final-status issues on the table,” specifying that the two sides had discussed borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Abbas also made it clear that he would require additional assumptions going into talks, saying “[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu wants us to eliminate the issue of refugees…We won’t accept this. We also don’t accept the presence of the Israeli army in the Jordan Valley.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli official noted that settlement construction had continued while Abbas and Olmert conducted talks and that during 2009-10 Netanyahu became the only Israeli prime minister to have imposed a ten-month moratorium on West Bank construction.
Meanwhile, at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu criticised Abbas for his failure to condemn a public call made over the weekend by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to destroy Israel. Netanyahu commented, “It’s interesting that Abbas has issued no condemnation of the remarks about the destruction of Israel, just as previously he did not condemn the missiles that were fired at Israel [before and during Operation Pillar of Defense]. To my regret, he strives for unity with the same Hamas that is supported by Iran.”