x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

No talks without East Jerusalem building freeze, Abbas says

If there is no complete halt to settlements in all of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem,' we will not accept, says Palestinian president.

CAIRO // The Palestinian Authority will not return to peace talks with Israel unless there is a freeze on settlement building that includes East Jerusalem, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said today.

Mr Abbas said the Palestinians and Israel had received no official US request to return to the talks, which began in September but stopped three weeks later after Israel refused to extend a freeze on new settlements in the West Bank.

Asked if the Palestinian Authority would agree to resume the talks if a new settlement freeze did not include East Jerusalem, he said: "If there is no complete halt to settlements in all of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem, we will not accept."

In talks last week, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, put together a package of incentives to get the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu ,to accept a fresh 90-day moratorium on new settlement building in a bid to get stalled peace talks with the Palestinians back on track.

But the proposal does not include east Jerusalem and Mr Netanyahu has baulked at bringing the deal to his security cabinet until he receives the US pledges in writing.

A US State Department spokesman, Philip Crowley, said on Friday that Washington was ready to provide the understandings in writing.

David Hale, assistant to the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, briefed Mr Abbas on details of the plan at a meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah last week.

Mr Abbas was speaking to reporters after meeting the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo.