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Abbas says dangerous challenges ahead

Oct. 9, 2010 11:05 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2010 12:41 P.M.)
SIRTE, Libya (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas told leaders at an Arab League summit Saturday that the "dangerous challenge" ahead required a unified Arab stance.

Israeli violations against Palestinians were escalating with an intensity that had not been seen in decades, the president told leaders convened for an emergency session in Sirte, Libya.

A process of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem was being implemented, Abbas said, under which home demolitions, evictions, land confiscation, and settlement building had become daily occurrences. The president said the separation and "judaization" of the holy city bluntly violated signed agreements and commitments, and aimed to destroy the peace process.

Palestinian negotiators welcomed honest efforts to achieve peace, he said, and were involved in continuous efforts with the US administration to translate support for a two-state solution into reality.

Abbas said the international community recognized the absurdity of negotiating borders while Israel was expanding settlements and unilaterally imposing borders to include its expanding territorial goals.

Further, he said the international community realized that any peace process would fail if it lacked terms of reference and specific goals. Abbas said US envoy George Mitchell made this clear when he proposed that final status issues should be resolved within 24 months of the start of proximity talks, and borders should be implemented within four months.

Arab foreign ministers met on Friday, and supported Abbas' decision to withdraw from talks unless Israel stopped building settlements on Palestinian land. They agreed however to give the US one month to resolve the crisis in negotiations, which reached a deadlock over Israel's refusal to limit settlement expansion.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon urged the Arab League to support Abbas' stance in a message delivered at the summit by UN Quartet Envoy Robert Serry. Ban reiterated his "disappointment" at Israel's position, and noted that settlement activity violated international law and the Road Map.

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