Abbas: Peace talks making no progress
Peace negotiations with Israel haven’t made any progress so far despite all the meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday.
Speaking at a meeting for his Fatah movement’s consultative council in Ramallah, Abbas added that he expected some “tension” in the offing because Israel is trying to connect settlement expansion to the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners.
“Israel is saying that after prisoners have been released, settlement expansion should continue,” Abbas said.
This connection, he added, and this parity might blow up the situation while negotiations have achieved nothing yet.
Abbas also asserted that he turned down a request by the US administration to freeze any legal procedures through international organizations during the nine months of negotiations.
“It is the Palestinians who can decide on this step and nobody can force them to take it,” he said.
Speaking about the Jordan Valley, the president highlighted that Israel gains $620 million every year from its control of the territory. Israeli claims about security interests in the Jordan Valley are false, he added.
Abbas also touched on the issue of veteran Palestinian prisoners who hold Israeli citizenship expected to be freed either in the third or the fourth group of 104 prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords of 1994.
“When they are freed, they will go back home and should keep their citizenship. If Israel starts to talk about deportation, the deal is over and we will immediately go to international organizations,” he said.
On reconciliation with Hamas, Abbas said it’s not doable now because Egypt is the only mediator and the Palestinians are waiting until the crisis in Sinai is over.
“You know that Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Syria tried to broker reconciliation, but we refused. We kept saying it is only Egypt even during (former President Mohamed) Morsi's days because we are dealing with a country regardless of the ruler.”
Abbas highlighted that the Palestinian Authority started to contact European countries who have business ties with Israeli settlements.
“We discovered that 87 European countries have business ties with settlements and so we started to send letters gradually. So far we have sent letters to 29 countries warning them that it’s unacceptable that they play a role in maintaining the illegal Israeli settlements.”