Palestinian leader rejects peace blueprint

2011-09-24 19:02
New York - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suggested on Saturday that he would reject a peacemaking blueprint put forward by international mediators, saying he would not agree to any proposal that disregards Palestinian conditions for resuming peacemaking.

Abbas, who returned to the West Bank on Saturday after submitting a statehood bid at the United Nations a day earlier, told reporters accompanying him that he was still studying the proposal by the peacemaking Quartet - the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia.

But he appeared to tip his hand by saying that "we will not deal with any initiative" that doesn't demand a halt to Israeli settlement construction or negotiations based on borders that existed before the 1967 war when Israel captured land the Palestinians claim for their state.

The Quartet statement made no such demands.

Abbas dug into his positions after resisting heavy, US-led pressure to abandon his bid to have the UN recognise a state of Palestine in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

His willingness to stand up to Washington has won him newfound respect at home, where he had been considered a lacklustre leader.

The bid for statehood and UN membership reflects deep-seated Palestinian exasperation over 44 years of Israeli occupation.

Israel has had no comment on the Quartet plan to resume long-stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, which mediators regard as the only way to establish a Palestinian state.

The Quartet urged both parties to draw up an agenda for peace talks within a month and produce comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.

Mediators aspire to a final deal within a year. But similar plans have failed to produce a peace agreement in the past, and this latest proposal offered no programme for bridging the huge differences that have stymied negotiations for most of the past three years.

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