Abbas wants ‘not a single Israeli’ in future Palestine
US Secretary of State Kerry (L) hosts an Iftar for Israeli Justice Minister Livni (2nd-R) and Palestinian chief negotiator Erekat (R) in Washington. AFP photoPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, as peace talks resume in Washington for the first time in nearly three years.
“In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands,” Abbas said. “An international, multinational presence like in Sinai, Lebanon and Syria - we are with that,” he said, referring to U.N. peacekeeping operations in those places.
Obama hails talks
The first peace talks started on July 29 over iftar dinner with Israel represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho and the Palestinians by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Ishtyeh. President Barack Obama has welcomed the start of the talks, calling it a “promising step” forward but warning of “hard choices.”
“The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith,” he said. Obama, meanwhile, was set to meet with Israeli, Palestinian negotiators at White House late yesterday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israelis and Palestinians to strike “reasonable compromises.” As the sides came together, Kerry met separately with each, starting with the Israelis, before all came together around the dinner table. “It’s very, very special to be here,” Kerry told his guests. “There isn’t very much to talk about at all,” he joked. The parties have publicly sparred over how the negotiations will unfold, with an Israeli official saying all issues would be discussed simultaneously and a Palestinian official saying they would start with borders and security.