x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abbas: no talks without settlement freeze

The Palestinian president has told Hillary Clinton talks with Israel are not possible without a freeze of Jewish settlements.

A handout picture from the Palestinian Press Office shows the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas standing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to a meeting in Abu Dhabi.
A handout picture from the Palestinian Press Office shows the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas standing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to a meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the Palestinians would not agree to relaunch peace talks with Israel without a complete freeze of Jewish settlements, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said today. Mr Abbas rejected the request from Mrs Clinton because a deal reached between US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Israel "does not include a complete freeze of settlement activities," Mr Erakat said.

Mrs Clinton met with Mr Abbas in the UAE before heading later to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States has been pushing Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks as part of President Barack Obama's efforts to reshape US Middle East policy - so far with little success. Mr Mitchell, who has been shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in recent days, apparently reached a deal with Israel for a temporary moratorium of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

However, Mr Erakat, who attended the Clinton-Abbas meeting, said the agreement Mrs Clinton presented to Abbas fell far short of the complete freeze Palestinians have been demanding. Israel had refused to halt construction of some 3,000 houses currently being built in the West Bank or any construction in annexed east Jerusalem, Mr Erakat said. * AFP