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Abbas: We don't want guarantees

Jan. 31, 2010 9:02 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 2, 2010 9:13 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in London on Friday that his government was not interested in US guarantees and denied reports that Arab ministers exerted pressure on him in Washington to resume negotiations with Israel.

"The US continued to contact us and the Israelis, and they intended to give what they call 'guarantees,' but we said frankly that we didn’t want guarantees," Abbas added.

Abbas said US President Barack Obama proposed a freeze to settlement construction, yet failed to convince Israel to halt settlement activity completely. Obama's suggestion, he said, was a moratorium which is unacceptable, being only a partial standstill for 10 months, excluding Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.

The PA, according to Abbas, gave to suggestions on how to restart negotiations with Israel. The first suggestion necessitated a decisive moratorium for a given period, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and all Palestinian territories. Additionally, Israel must recognize the 1967 borders, he said. The second suggestion was to discuss all issues, including final status issues, which was undertaken with the former Israeli government, but nothing followed such talks, Abbas added.

Abbas also highlighted that the US suggested "proximity talks" but "we, the Palestinian side, didn’t give an official reply, which will be given in 10 days after consulting with Arab and ally countries," he said.

Meanwhile, Abbas added, Obama gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu five steps to be taken in order to rebuild trust with the Palestinians. Firstly, all military incursions into the West Bank must be brought to halt, as they can no longer be justified while security measures are imposed solely by the PA. Secondly, all military checkpoints erected during the second Intifida must be dismantled, as there is neither an uprising nor security chaos, he said.

The third step includes the release of Palestinian prisoners. Abbas highlighted that Hamas is currently negotiating the release of one Israeli prisoner for potentially hundreds of Palestinian detainees, while the PA transfers all Israeli citizens illegally in the West Bank back to Israeli military officials.

Israel must allow the transfer of construction material into the Gaza Strip for reconstruction, and finally, Israel is to redefine the Palestinian areas A, B and C in order to allow Palestinians to move freely.

Abbas further told reporters in London that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia supported the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to sign the Egyptian-backed reconciliation agreement in any place other than Egypt.

"I support your stance that you can’t ignore Egypt because that would be immoral," King Abdullah told Abbas.

Abbas confirmed his support for popular resistance, however, he said he is against the launching of a third Palestinian Intifada. "I don’t want to destroy the country again."

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