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Abbas: No peace with Israel without defining borders

April 29, 2014 5:42 P.M. (Updated: May 18, 2014 11:09 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- There can be no peace with Israel without first defining the borders of a future Palestinian state, president Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

"Since the creation of Israel, nobody knows what the borders are. We are determined to know our borders and theirs, without that there will be no peace," he said as Washington's nine-month deadline for reaching a peace deal expired, leaving the process in tatters.

In a televised address, Abbas laid out his conditions for returning to the crisis-hit peace talks with Israel which have made no progress since they were launched on July 29 last year.

"If we want to extend the negotiations there has to be a release of prisoners ... a settlement freeze, and a discussion of maps and borders for three months during which there must be a complete halt to settlement activity," he said.

Although the talks made little visible progress, they hit a major stumbling block in late March when Israel refused to honor a commitment to free two dozen veteran Palestinian prisoners, prompting Abbas to resume recognition moves by signing 15 international treaties.

Furious, Israel immediately unveiled economic sanctions by freezing tax monies it collects on behalf of Ramallah and suspending a joint natural gas drilling project off the Gaza coast.

A senior Israeli official said there would be no further talks unless Abbas renounced a reconciliation pact signed last week with Hamas, under which the two rival Palestinian administrations would seek to form a new government of technocrats.

"The moment that Mahmoud Abbas gives up the alliance with Hamas, a murderous organization which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, we will be ready to return immediately to the negotiating table and discuss all subjects," he told AFP.

On April 24, a day after the unity deal was announced, the Israeli security cabinet said it would not negotiate with any Palestinian government backed by Hamas, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Abbas would have to choose between peace with the Islamist movement, or peace with Israel.

PLO official Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that Israel actively sabotaged any chance for a two-state solution.

"To build settlements in occupied land, kill Palestinians and demolish hundreds of Palestinian homes is certainly not the behavior of a government that wants to end occupation but of a government that wants to turn occupation into annexation."

Rather than use the nine-month deadline to achieve a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used "every possible tool in order to consolidate its Apartheid regime," Erekat said.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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