Abbas submits Mideast peace proposal to Obama
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented a draft proposal on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US administration when he met President Barack Obama in Washington, a Palestinian source said.world Updated: May 30, 2009 18:23 IST
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented a draft proposal on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US administration when he met President Barack Obama in Washington, a Palestinian source said on Saturday.
"The plan includes timetables and mechanisms for carrying out the deals to push forward the political process," the source said on condition of anonymity.
Abbas's proposal was based on the US-backed Road Map peace plan, previous agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Arab peace initiative, the source added.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were resumed in late 2007 following a push by former president George W Bush but failed to progress.
The Palestinians say the non-stop construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the territory which will make up the largest part of a future Palestinian state, was the main obstacle to the talks.
Abbas, who held his first meeting with Obama in Washington on Thursday, asked for immediate help to stop the Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, including the so-called natural growth of the settlements.
"He also asked for removing the checkpoints in the West Bank, lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip and reopening the PNA's office in East Jerusalem, taking in consideration that these were basic points in the Road Map," the source said.
Obama told Abbas that he would send his envoy George Mitchell to the region next week to meet Israeli and Palestinian officials and discuss ways of pushing the stalled peace talks forward.
Obama also emphasised the need to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel as the best solution, reiterating his administration's commitment to achieving this goal, the official said.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama's statements generated more optimism for the PNA.
"The Palestinians and the Americans have a common interest in securing a fair and lasting peace in the Middle East," Erekat added, stressing that the Palestinian statehood must be "viable".
"Time is running out and the two-state solution must be applied, " he added.
Meanwhile, Islamic Hamas movement, bitter rival of Abbas, said the meeting between Abbas and Obama was disappointing and did not bring any new thing.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said his movement saw Abbas's commitment to the Road Map as "an uprooting of the resistance and a liquidation of Hamas" as the plan calls on the PNA to dismantle armed Palestinian groups.
"All the Palestinian factions rejected the Road Map except Abbas," Barhoum said, adding that Obama's statements were "insufficient wishes that are no longer useful under the Zionists' increasing military escalation".
Hamas wants Abbas to halt peace negotiations with Israel, and to adopt armed resistance against Israel to pressurise the Jewish state into giving the Palestinians their legitimate rights back.
Abbas, however, insists on pursuing peace talks with Israel until finding a fair and just peaceful solution to the conflict and establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
First Published: May 30, 2009 18:20 IST