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Abbas Tells Israeli Delegation Netanyahu does not want Peace

RAMALLAH, April 28, 2011 (WAFA) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday told an Israeli peace delegation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want peace.

Abbas received the Israeli delegation at his headquarters in Ramallah to discuss the initiative, which calls for establishing two states living in peace next to each other and for finding a solution to the refugee question and Jerusalem.

Abbas told the Israeli delegation that he was very close to reaching a peace agreement with Israel when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had headed the government. However, he said, when Netanyahu came to office he wanted to start from point zero.

“We were very close but couldn’t conclude (an agreement),” said Abbas about the talks with Olmert.

He said an agreement on borders and security was within reach and could have been concluded, On borders, he said, the two sides agreed to the 1967 borders with land swap, and on security, Abbas proposed having a third party, such as NATO, to deploy forces in the Palestinian areas to monitor the area, but not Israeli forces.

“We were very close, but couldn’t conclude it. We had understandings on these issues,” said Abbas.

“We wanted to continue with Netanyahu, but he insisted to start from zero,” he said.

Netanyahu, said Abbas, rejected the idea of having NATO forces in the West Bank and insisted on having Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank for 40 years.

“”I want to rely on my troops,” Netanyahu told Abbas, who responded saying: “I said to him this is an occupation, so keep it.”

Abbas said when Netanyahu closed all the doors in front of the peace talks, he had no choice but to seek other avenues, including going to the United Nations Security Council.

President Abbas talked about the new reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which had upset Israel, apparently including the Israeli delegation visiting Ramallah, which told Abbas that they were reconsidering their visit to Ramallah after the reconciliation agreement was announced Wednesday night in Cairo.

“Netanyahu has said time and time again that the Palestinian Authority must choose between Hamas and peace talks, but I responded by saying Hamas is part of the Palestinian people,” he said. “Netanyahu must make a decision between settlement construction and peace,” stressed Abbas.

He said that politics is the job of the PLO and its chairman, and not of the government.

Abbas said the reconciliation agreement is the first step towards having a government of technocrats, whose only purpose is to rebuild Gaza and prepare for elections, and not to hold negotiations with Israel.

Abbas said the Israeli peace initiative could be a base for peace talks. He called on Netanyahu to adopt it as well, after he rejected it when it was presented to him.

The delegation thanked Abbas and considered his acceptance and welcoming of the initiative a major step forward towards accomplishing peace.


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