Thursday, 24 September 2009

Abbas - no common ground for negotiations with Netanyahu

Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian paper Al-Hayyat there is “no common ground for negotiations” with the Netanyahu government, in an interview published Thursday.

Abbas expressed his skepticism over the outcome of talks, saying “Netanyahu is declaring Jerusalem and refugees topics not up for negotiations, so what is there to talk about?"

Abbas reconfirmed his stance on requiring a settlement construction freeze before sitting down for peace talks, a stance which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected, while his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman bragged to the press Wednesday that the trilateral meetings in New York were proof Israel would not let the US pressure them into halting construction.

The closest US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell got to a deal was the Israeli offer to pause construction in the West Bank - not East Jerusalem - for nine months, not including the almost 1,000 settlement units okayed a week before Mitchell’s arrival in the region. In the interview Abbas reiterated that this partial freeze was not acceptable.