Palestinians deny avoiding direct talks with Israel

President Mahmud Abbas on Monday denied that the Palestinians were hindering the start of direct talks with Israel after Israel said they were dragging their feet.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 26 Jul 2010, 9:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:49 AM

“We are ready to hold direct peace negotiations with Israel,” Abbas told reporters in Amman, adding however they should have the 1967 borders as a reference.

“Direct talks should be held in line with a clear reference — the 1967 borders as a reference,” Abbas said after talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

“We have negotiated with Israeli governments before, more than once. Why would we avoid such talks? We are not.”

Netanyahu told the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence earlier on Monday that the Palestinians were trying to sneak out of direct negotiations while Israel was ready to start them “immediately.”

“We have an understanding with the Americans that we need to move now, without any delay, to direct negotiations, but in response, we have a clear Palestinian attempt to avoid this process,” Netanyahu said.

“They are trying to stall and to sneak away from direct negotiations and to cause the Arab League to shackle the talks.”

Netanyahu’s remarks come just days ahead of a meeting in Cairo between Abbas and the Arab League at which the Palestinian leader will discuss the indirect talks with Israel, which began in May, and will also address the pressing question of a shift to direct negotiations.

Abbas has repeatedly said he would not move to direct talks without tangible progress on the key issues of borders and security, and without a complete freeze on Jewish settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

After his talks with King Abdullah the palace issued a statement quoting Abbas as saying: “I have two things to say about holding direct talks: The 1967 borders, and freezing settlement building.

“Then, direct talks will be possible, very possible,” Abbas said.

“The indirect talks are still on, and we will discuss future steps at the Arab League soon,” he added.

Abbas is due to meet Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos on Tuesday in Amman before flying to Cairo.

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