Abbas calls for renewed talks with Israel after UN vote

PTI New York | Updated on March 12, 2018

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas called today for a return to peace talks, but slammed Israel’s latest settlement plans in reaction to a United Nations vote recognising Palestine as a non-member state.

“I’ve said a thousand times that we want to resume negotiations and we are ready to do it,” Abbas told presspersons in New York.

“We are not setting any condition but there are at least 15 UN resolutions which consider settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace which must be removed,” he said. “Why do (the Israelis) not stop settlement?”

In the landmark vote in New York, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a resolution recognising Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member observer state.

Israel lashed out in response today, with an official confirming to AFP plans to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, without specifying exactly where they were to be sited.

Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi reacted by telling AFP “it is an act of Israeli aggression against a state, and the world needs to take up its responsibilities.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously warned that by going to the UN, the Palestinians had “violated” previous agreements with Israel, such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, and that his country would “act accordingly.”

Israel’s US ally, the US, also criticised the decision on new homes.

“We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and east Jerusalem construction and announcements. We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or (to) achieve a two-state solution,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve,” Vietor said.

Such talks have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table and the Israelis insisting on no preconditions.

The move was also denounced by Peace Now, Israel’s settlement watchdog.

“Instead of punishing the Palestinians, this Government is punishing Israel by making peace harder to achieve and showing that Israel does not want peace,” said spokeswoman Hagit Ofran. “That is very dangerous.”

Israeli rights group Yesh Din said the plan amounted to “collective punishment trampling Palestinian human rights”.

“Expanding building in the West Bank will also implicate more Israelis in committing offences against international law,” a statement said.

Published on December 01, 2012

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