Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas on Sunday ruled out new negotiations without a "complete halt" to Israeli settlement building. "There will be no negotiations without international legitimacy and a complete halt to settlements," he said in Ramallah after returning from the United Nations.
His words were a rejection of a proposal for new peace talks offered by the Quartet on Friday. The group, according to AFP, called for talks to start within a month, and for a final deal to be reached before the end of 2012.
But they made no explicit reference to a halt of Israeli settlement construction, or clear parameters for the talks, both of which the Palestinians have said are key preconditions for their return to the negotiating table.
Abbas told the crowds he had conveyed their dreams of statehood to the international community. "We went to the United Nations carrying your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions, your suffering, your vision and your need for an independent Palestinian state," he said.
"I have no doubt that the whole free world from one end to the other received what we told them about you and your dreams with all due respect," he added as the crowds chanted "The people want a Palestinian state."
"Brothers, there is no doubt that we are strong, strong in our rights, strong in our determination; our eyes, our minds and our culture are strong," he said. "Lift your heads up high, you are Palestinian!"