Monday, March 27, 2017

3-27-2017: ABBAS URGES ISRAEL NOT TO MISS NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR PEACE

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-urges-Israel-not-to-miss-new-opportunity-for-peace-485344

The Palestinians are ready to make peace with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday, speaking in Brussels of the new initiative by US President Donald Trump to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are hoping the people of Israel will not miss this opportunity to make peace,” Abbas said on Monday during a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Abbas held high-level meetings in Germany and Brussels this week before heading, along with Mogherini, to Jordan to attend the Arab League Summit in Jordan. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is expected to be high on the agenda.

US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt who has spent the last two weeks meeting with Israelis and Palestinians, is also expected to attend the meeting as an observer.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Abul Gheit told al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Palestinians “promised to present a new plan” at the Arab League Summit. 

However, Palestinian leaders from across the board including Abbas confidante Ahmad Majdalani and PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Saeb Erekat have flatly denied Abul Gheit statements. 

“As we have in the past, we support the Arab Peace Initiative as a resolution to the conflict. We have no new plan,” Majdalani told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines, in exchange for normalized relations between Israel and the Arab world.

Despite Palestinians denials, Abul Gheit reiterated to Al-Watan, a Saudi newspaper, on Sunday that the Palestinians will put forth a new plan.

In Brussels Abbas spoke of  his phone call with Trump earlier this month.

“I told Mr. Trump that we are ready for a peace agreement,” Abbas said.

He said he had discussed with Mogherini the best way to advance the peace process under Trump’s leadership.

The Palestinians, he said, are “committed to a fair and just solution based on international legitimacy, international security council resolutions and the Arab Initiative.”

This solution would include “east Jerusalem as the capital for Palestine,” Abbas said.

He spoke against the continued Israeli practice of Palestinian “land expropriations” in Area C of the West Bank and settlement building.

“This policy will create the status quo of one state,” he warned, adding that such “policies of the occupying power will not bring about peace in our region. Peace and stability can only be reached through the relations of good neighbors. This is precisely what we are ready to do, to be good neighbors.”

Mogherini said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict  through a two-state solution remained a “top priority” for the EU.

“Our EU policy on this has not changed. We recognize changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, only when agreed by the parties. Our position on Jerusalem as future capital of both states has not changed and we support Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem, both in political and financial terms,” said Mogherini.

The EU remains strongly opposed to Israeli settlement activity as well as Israeli demotions of Palestinian owned structures, Mogherini said. The EU “considers settlements to be illegal under international law,” she added.

The last peace process broke down in April 2014, with the Palestinians insisting that Israel must halt settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem before talks can resume. Israel has insisted that negotiations should move forward without any preconditions. 

It is in the middle of talks with the Trump Administration to come to an understanding with regard to settlement construction, that is expected to curb, but not halt such activity.

The Arab League Summit is expected to form a policy agenda with regard to its engagement with the Trump Administration.

A number of top Arab leaders are expected to meet with Trump in April.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be in Washington next week, followed by King Abdullah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas later in the month. 

All three leaders have committed to raise the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their discussion with Trump, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said in a telephone interview last week. 

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