Abbas warns of Quartet failure on peace talks
RAMALLAH - Agence France-Presse
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Christmas midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem early December 25, 2011. REUTERS PhotoPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned in an interview on Sunday that the international peacemaking Quartet will have "failed" if it cannot kickstart negotiations by January 26.
"If the Quartet can't get the Israeli and Palestinian sides to the table by January 26, it means they have failed and the Palestinian leadership will study its position and act accordingly," he told Palestine TV.
January 26 is the deadline set by the international peacemaking Quartet for Israel and the Palestinians to submit comprehensive proposals on territory and security as the group works to restart peace talks.
But so far the Quartet, which groups the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, has had little success in coaxing the sides back to the negotiating table.
Israel says it wants talks without preconditions, but the Palestinians want a freeze on settlement construction and agreement on the framework for talks before beginning negotiations.
With little sign of progress, some commentators have warned of the prospect of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
But Abbas, who has consistently rejected violence and promoted peaceful protest, said he saw little chance of that.
"If nothing happens, then all options are open to us, and of course there are people who say there will be a third intifada, but I say that is unlikely and I do not accept it," he said.
With peace talks on hold, the Palestinians focused in 2011 on diplomatic measures, including seeking full UN membership and winning membership of the UNESCO cultural organisation, over US and Israeli opposition.
Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said in December that such efforts were now effectively on hold until January 26.
"But this political ceasefire will end on January 26," he told reporters.
"If on the 26th Israel does not come up with a freeze of the settlements and talks based on the 1967 borders, we will continue our international drive."