Palestinian President: Israeli actions hinder progress
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday accused Israel of hampering progress toward a joint declaration of principles that would guide future peace talks. Abbas made his comments after meeting for a second time this week with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
A senior Abbas aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said the gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian positions remain wide, and that "the credibility of the U.S. administration depends on the pressure that it is willing to exert on Israel."
Israel and the Palestinians are trying to draw up a joint document addressing the so-called core issues of their conflict, including Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, borders and Palestinian refugees.
After his meeting with Rice on Wednesday, Abbas slammed Israel. "There is continuous Israeli aggression while our security forces are trying to impose law and order," he said. According to the AP, he mentioned Israeli plans to build another settlement near Jerusalem and its decision to resume excavations near a key Jerusalem holy site. "These actions ... are hindering the endeavor to reach a document with substance, to take to the conference," he said.
Another Abbas aide, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, said the Palestinian president told Rice that Israel should free 2,000 Palestinian prisoners with the convening of the conference.