Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that Mideast peace talks should resume immediately after Israel completes its Gaza Strip withdrawal and expressed hope that a Palestinian state will be established by next year.
"We live in hope," Abbas told The Associated Press in an interview. "And we hope that a Palestinian state can be achieved next year, God willing. What is important is to have the state."
Abbas also said that the Israeli withdrawal would lead to the development of the educational sector. "The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern parts in the West Bank would improve educational process," Abbas told reporters during a tour in Gaza schools, on the occasion of the new school year.
"There would be neither obstacles, (Israeli) checkpoints nor Abu Holi checkpoint," he said.