Abbas willing to overlook settlements to get back to negotiating table
A Fatah movement member stands next to a mural of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)
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Despite threatening to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their settlement plans, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looks set to change stance to get back to the negotiating table, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
According to a document of draft talking points, obtained by the Times, Abbas is no longer insisting that his Israel counterpart publicly announce the end of settlement building. The Palestinian PM is willing to re-start talks even if this is only done in sectret.
The talking points have been laid out in advance of U.S. President Barack Obama's meeting with Abbas set to take place on Thursday.
After Israel announced their latest settlement plans for East Jerusalem and the West Bank in December last year, the Palestinian PM threatened to hand over control of the occupied territories to Israel. According to the latest documents, this stance has not changed:
“I am not threatening, I am sharing a fact with you,” the talking points read, adding, “If this situation continues I will be forced to ask Prime Minister Netenyahoo to resume his responsibilities.”
The peace process came to a halt in 2011 and since then neither party has agreed to come back to the negotiating table. Abbas has previously insisted on a halt to Israeli settlement building before returning to the talks.
However, Netanyahu repeated on Wednesday that neither settlement building nor any movement on the 1967 borders were acceptable preconditions for talks.
All settlement building in the West Bank and East Jersualem is considered illegal by the international community.