Peace process clinically dead: Palestinian leader
‘The ball is in their court,’ says Palestinian leader Abbas referring to peace talks.Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas yesterday blasted the peace process with Israel as “clinically dead” just days before negotiator Saeb Erakat meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The peace process is clinically dead and the Israeli side is definitely the one responsible,” Abbas said at a conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah, reiterating a statement he has made on several occasions. “The ball is in their court.” Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on ice since autumn 2010 in an intractable dispute over Israeli settlements, with the Palestinians refusing to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze and Israel’s agreement to accept pre-1967 lines as the basis for talks.
Israel has said it wants an immediate return to the negotiating table, but without such preconditions. Despite the lack of movement, world diplomats have been seeking ways of bringing the sides back together, with Erakat set to hold talks with Clinton on the issue in Washington tomorrow.
“I was assigned by President Abbas to inform U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of our position on resuming negotiations once Israel commits to stopping settlement activity and release of prisoners, among other obligations,” Erakat told Agence France-Presse yesterday, a day ahead of his departure for the United States.
“These are not preconditions but obligations and Israel must abide by them,” he said. “We hope the American administration compels the Israeli government to fulfill its obligations in order to get the peace process back on track.”