Palestinians committed to peace with Israel: Abbas

08:07, June 10, 2010      

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Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that his people are committed to a peace process guided by the two-state solution, calling for Israel to ease up siege in the Palestinian territories.

"What we care about is to live in coexistence with Israel, in order to bring about the independent Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and stability," Abbas told reporters after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House.

During the meeting, President Obama continued convincing the Palestinian leader that the two-state solution is the best choice for both sides to reach peace, adding that he believes some " significant progress" could be made before the end of the year.

In front of the U.S. president, Abbas reaffirmed support for the two-state solution, saying the Palestinians are proud of it and will "pursue very seriously" efforts in order to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Echoing Obama's expectation of "significant progress", Abbas urged the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift the years-lasting siege on the Palestinian people in the territories.

"We see the need to lift the Israeli siege of the Palestinian people, the need to open all the crossings, and the need to let building material and humanitarian material and all the necessities go into the Palestinian people," he said.

"We know that time is of essence; we know that we must not miss this opportunity," he added.

The Palestinian leader told Obama that the PNA would keep pushing economic and security reform forward to "the next level" with U.S. assistance, and Palestinian political reform, which he said is in the interest of the Palestinians themselves, Israel, the U.S. and the world.

Obama has urged both sides to resume direct talks in order to reach a permanent agreement that leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. But the two sides refused the call because of dispute over Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Chairman Abbas insists that the talks shall not resume until the Israeli government totally freezes the Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, while the Israeli side blames Abbas of setting condition for resuming the talks and vows to ensure the "natural growth" of the Jewish settlements.

Under the pressure mounted by the Obama administration, the Israeli government and the PNA resumed their talks early this month, although in an indirect way mediated by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, ending a 17-month-long stalemate.

"With regards to the transitioning from the proximity talks to the direct talks, we did not say that we have conditions. What has happened is that we agreed that should a progress be achieved, then we would move on to direct talks," said Abbas, when asked at the joint press conference with Obama whether the PNA set condition for talks with Israel.



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