Israeli foreign minister criticizes Abbas

Dec. 27, 2004 at 6:45 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Monday criticized Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' tough election talk.

Israel could not ignore "harsh statements" Abbas made to kick off his campaign for the Palestinian presidency, Shalom said.

He compared Abbas' goals to those of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who left "a legacy of terrorism."

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Abbas said in Ramallah there will be no peace until Israel removes all settlements, withdraws to pre-1967 war boundaries, accepts a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, recognizes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their old homes, and releases all Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti.

"At a time when there is perhaps a great atmosphere of hope here in the region and in the world as a whole, harsh statements such as these are not encouraging," Shalom said in a radio interview. "This speech does not bode well."

"You cannot speak of 'continuing the struggle in all forms,' or to sell the illusion of the refugees, nor to speak of Jerusalem in that manner," Shalom argued.

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