Abbas terms for direct talks 'impossible': Israel minister
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has laid down "impossible" conditions for moving to direct peace talks, Israel's vice prime minister charged on Wednesday.world Updated: Jul 28, 2010 14:09 IST
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has laid down "impossible" conditions for moving to direct peace talks, Israel's vice prime minister charged on Wednesday.
"The Palestinians have set three impossible conditions, that the negotiations start from the point they left off at the end of 2008 when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, that they be based on a total Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and that the freeze of (settlement) construction continue," Silvan Shalom told Israeli public radio.
His remarks came ahead of a scheduled meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday to decide whether to endorse a move to direct negotiations after nearly three months of US brokered indirect talks that have shown little sign of progress.
Washington has been pressing the two sides for more than a year to relaunch direct talks which were suspended after the start of the Gaza war in December 2008.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is ready to meet with Abbas at any time but the Palestinians have demanded certain guarantees they say are necessary to ensure that these talks succeed where past rounds have failed.
Specifically, they want Israel to accept the 1967 borders, demarcating the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, as the basis for the negotiations, as well as a complete halt to all settlement activity on Palestinian land.
Israel approved a limited moratorium on the construction of settler homes in the West Bank that expires in September and which was rejected as insufficient by the Palestinians because it did not include east Jerusalem.
Israel occupied the mostly Arab half of the city in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community. It views the entire city as its "eternal, undivided" capital.
The Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, and the city's fate has been one of the most intractable issues in past rounds of negotiations going back to the early 1990s.