Abbas says no common ground for peace

Sept. 24, 2009 at 9:35 AM
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there is no common ground to resume Mideast peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinian leader said he will not accept a partial West Bank settlement freeze as such a move would allow settlement construction to continue, he said in an interview published Thursday in the Al-Hayat daily newspaper.

"(Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu's government is a real problem and there is no common ground for negotiations. Settlement construction continues and Netanyahu has said Jerusalem and the issue concerning Palestinian refugees are not up for discussion, so what can we talk about?" the newspaper quoted him saying.

Abbas' statements came just days after his New York meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an attempt to move the peace process forward. The Palestinian president said he was particularly concerned with Netanyahu's offer to establish a Palestinian State on temporary borders.

Talks must resume from where former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government left off, he said.

"Maps were drafted by both sides, proposals for territorial exchanges discussed. We cannot resume talks from zero," Abbas said.

In an interview with the Web site Thursday, Netanyahu said he would not announce a partial settlement freeze before talks with the Palestinians begin.

"I told him (Abbas) there would be peace only if the same Palestinians asking us to recognize Palestine as the nation state of their people would recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said, "Abu Mazen's (Abbas) test will be if he wants to be Arafat or Sadat," Netanyahu said.

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