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Abbas urges Israel to reciprocate recognition

June 30, 2011 9:11 P.M. (Updated: July 1, 2011 9:34 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Israel should recognize a Palestinian state "in response to our people's recognition of Israel's right to exist," the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported.

In a speech to the Dutch parliament, Abbas reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution, which he said must be achieved through talks and not violence.

"To accomplish this goal I am calling on the Israeli government to accept the references for talks including the principles that were set by [US] President [Barack] Obama."

Abbas added: "Our main objective is to hold talks with Israel to reach peace."

The president urged Israel to recognize a Palestinian state on land occupied in 1967, noting that Palestinians had already recognized Israel's right to exist.

Palestinians were not trying to isolate or delegitimize Israel, Abbas said.

"On the contrary. Because we did not get the approval of the Israeli government on the references of the peace process and to stop settlement building, we will continue with our attempt to gain recognition of a Palestinian state as a member of the United Nations."

The president said 117 countries had recognized Palestine as an independent state, and urged those who had not "to do so as soon as possible."

The Palestinian leadership is committed to democracy, transparency, accountability, human rights and freedom of expression, he added.

Abbas also reiterated his commitment to previously signed agreements with Israel.

Regarding the reconciliation agreement recently signed between Hamas and Fatah, Abbas said national unity was the "sole path to the two-state solution."

However the Palestine Liberation Organization was the body authorized to negotiate with Israel, not the government, he noted.
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