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Abbas hints at resignation

March 9, 2011 12:09 A.M. (Updated: March 10, 2011 10:39 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas hinted Tuesday that he would resign if an independent Palestinian state was not established by September.

Abbas' remarks came at a joint press conference with British Foreign Minister William Hague in London.

Responding to reporters' questions about his resignation, Abbas said all options were being considered.

US President Barack Obama set a September 2011 deadline for reaching a peace deal when he launched the last round of negotiations in September. The talks collapsed within three weeks over Israel's insistence on resuming full-scale settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

In February, the Middle East Quartet -- the EU, US, UN and Russia -- reaffirmed its support for concluding negotiations by September.

Abbas told reporters in London that negotiations must comply with the international community's principals and lead to an independent state on 1967 borders and a fair solution for refugees.

He added that Israel's ongoing settlement construction did not help the peace process.

Meanwhile, Hague urged a return to negotiations and said the UK was committed to the two-state solution, establishing a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

The British minister welcomed last month's call by the Palestinian Authority leadership for presidential and legislative elections by September.

"I welcomed the recent call for Palestinian elections and I condemn the rejection of these by Hamas," he said.

"Hamas should not be able to stifle the democratic expression of Palestinian opinion."

Hamas -- which controls Gaza while Abbas's Fatah faction controls the West Bank -- has said it will not participate in elections without a reconciliation deal between the two warring factions.

For his part, Abbas said: "We are ready to have legislative and presidential elections and we leave the ballot boxes to speak for themselves... and whoever wins will take the helm.

"Without this we cannot reach a political solution without Palestinian reconciliation."

Britain confirmed Monday that it was upgrading the status of the Palestinian diplomatic delegation to London to the level of a mission, following in the footsteps of several other European Union countries.
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