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Aide: Abbas has 2 conditions for talks

Jan. 26, 2010 8:57 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2010 10:29 A.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – President Mahmoud Abbas laid out two preconditions for the resumption of negotiations with Israel, during his meeting with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell on Friday, a senior aide said on Tuesday.

The aide, Nimer Hammad, told Ma'an that Abbas asked that Israel commit to a real settlement freeze even for a limited period of time. His second request was that negotiations be based on the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and a full withdrawal to those armistice lines.

According to Nimer, the following are some excerpts from the meeting:

Mitchell: The Israelis have requested renewed negotiations, saying they froze settlements for ten months.

Abbas: Go to Jerusalem and see for yourself the settlement activity and Judaization of the city – you'll see the situation on the ground looks nothing like a settlement freeze.

Mitchell: The Israelis could take confidence-building steps like releasing prisoners, removing checkpoints, changing areas classified as "C" [according to the Oslo Accords] to "B" classification, and areas "B" to "A."

Abbas: This is a good thing.

Mitchell: But there's a prerequisite for that, resuming negotiations.

Abbas: We welcome these ideas but not as preconditions for talks.

After this dialogue, Mitchell suggested indirect negotiations between other parties, during which he would shuffle between other sides, including the Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese.

Nimer said Abbas also asked Mitchell what he thought of Israel's settlement enterprise, and Mitchell replied that it is "illegal and we reject it."

Nimer also reiterated that the PLO was not opposed to his efforts to resume the peace process, but noted that there are other options, among them supporting nonviolent resistance along with Israeli peace activists.
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