Abbas urges Mitchell to stop Israeli provocations

20:53, May 19, 2010      

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday urged U.S. peace envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, who arrived in the region on Tuesday, to pressure on Israel to stop its provocations against the Palestinians, a senior Palestinian official said.

Mitchell arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday and held two-hour talks with Abbas. Mitchell will hold on Thursday similar talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over resuming the proximity talks with the Palestinians.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told a news conference following the meeting between Mitchell and Abbas that the latter had asked the American side to stop the "provocative Israeli practices, mainly settlement, raiding towns, assassinating Palestinians and imposed new facts on the ground."

"The Palestinians are not negotiating with Israel, they are focusing through the talks held with the American side on the permanent status issues, mainly the issues of borders and security until achieving the establishment of the Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967," said Erekat.

Erekat stressed that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is keen "to make Mitchell's mission successful," adding "we want to use every moment of the four-month devoted for the proximity talks until we achieve our goal of implementing the vision of the two-state solution."

Meanwhile, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday that any Israeli goodwill gestures must not be part of the U.S.-sponsored Palestinian-Israeli proximity peace talks.

"Israel's goodwill signs to release some Palestinian prisoners and remove a number of checkpoints in the West Bank are not scheduled in the talks," Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Voice of Palestine radio.

The proximity talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis kicked off earlier this month through U.S. mediation in an attempt to revive the direct peace talks that had been frozen since Israel waged a war on Gaza in December 2008.

The PLO official added that these actions cannot be part of the recently inaugurated negotiations, "simply because the PLO mainly focuses on key issues such as the borders, Jerusalem, the refugees and water."

The United States has promised the Palestinians that the state of Israel will make a number of "goodwill gestures" to pave the way and build confidence for the success of the talks.

"We have emphasized to the American peace envoy, George Mitchell, that the proximities will tackle the final status issues, " the Palestinian official revealed. These issues -- if resolved -- would enable the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Abed Rabbo also accused Israel of working to ruin the peace process through its continued settlement activities, affirming that the Palestinian leadership will save no efforts to make the peace process a success.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Palestinian source close to Abbas was quoted by the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper as saying that Abbas expected to receive answers from Mitchell to previous clarifications related to freezing settlement activities and discussing all permanent status issues in the talks.

The permanent issues are related to Jerusalem, settlement, refugees, borders, water and prisoners. Abbas also wants Israel to freeze settlement activities not only in the West Bank, but also in East Jerusalem.

The source said that Abbas would inform Mitchell that in case the two-state solution is agreed upon, he prefers to bring NATO forces to inspect the borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state.

According to the source, the NATO forces will observe the borders as well as the crossing points to prevent smuggling weapons to the demilitarized state of Palestine, adding "also to protect the new born state from Israeli assaults."

The source also told the daily that Abbas would guarantee to Mitchell that the PNA will continue fighting any Palestinian violent action or any incitement against Israel.

"President Abbas will ask for establishing the state on all the territories occupied by Israeli in 1967 with the possibility of territorial exchange with Israel, which wants to keep control of large settlement communities."

Abbas would also ask for a safe passage to link between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to keep geographical connection between the two territories of the Palestinian state, said the sources.

Mitchell's visit is the first since the Palestinians announced last week that the four-month proximity talks had been launched. Peace talks between the two sides had been stalled since December 2008.

Source: Xinhua


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