Abbas cancels African tour citing flaming violence

10:32, March 18, 2010      

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled a planned tour to some African countries citing the flaming violence in the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem, an official said on Wednesday.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua by telephone that Abbas has decided to stay at his office in Ramallah to follow up the situation on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Erekat himself postponed two days ago a scheduled visit to Russia to hand over to the Russian leaders "an important official Palestinian letter that tackles the flaming situation in the Palestinian territories."

Russia is a member of the international Quartet, which also includes the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. The Quartet is scheduled to hold a meeting in Moscow on March 19.

"After we cancelled our visits and tours, we decided to hand over the letter to the Quartet representatives in the West Bank," Erekat said, adding that "We hope that it will achieve fruitful results."

He said the official Palestinian letters demand a halt to all settlement activities and the Israeli provocative acts in Jerusalem "in order to launch the proximity talks with Israel."

Erekat also said that President Abbas demanded the United States to pressurize Israel to call off its latest decision to build hundreds of new housing units in settlements in East Jerusalem.

Asked about the postponement of a visit of U.S. peace envoy to the region George Mitchell, which was initially scheduled for Tuesday, Erekat said "The United States understands the position of the Palestinians and the Arab states."

"Our position is very clear. We can't resume any peace negotiations with Israel without annulling all the declarations of the Israeli government to build more new housing units in the settlements," said Erekat.

Source: Xinhua
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