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Palestinian leader nixes international peace plan

Sunday, September 25, 2011

UNITED NATIONS -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas strongly suggested Saturday that he would reject a peacemaking blueprint put forward by international mediators, saying he would not agree to any proposal that disregarded Palestinian conditions for the resumption of peace talks.

Abbas, who returned to the West Bank on Saturday after submitting a statehood bid at the United Nations a day earlier, told reporters accompanying him that he was still studying the proposal by the peacemaking Quartet -- the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia.

But he appeared to tip his hand by saying "we will not deal with any initiative" that doesn't demand a halt to Israeli settlement construction or negotiations based on borders before the 1967 war when Israel captured land the Palestinians claim for their state.

The Quartet statement made no such demands.

Abbas dug into his positions after resisting heavy, U.S.-led pressure to abandon his bid to have the U.N. recognize a state of Palestine in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. His willingness to stand up to Washington has won him newfound respect at home, where he had been considered a lackluster leader. The unilateral bid for statehood and U.N. membership reflects deep-seated Palestinian exasperation over 44 years of Israeli occupation.

Israel has had no comment on the Quartet plan to resume long-stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, which mediators regard as the only way to establish a Palestinian state. Israeli leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the long-standing conditions Abbas has put forth, saying talks must go forward without imposing terms.

Netanyahu opposes negotiations based on 1967 lines, saying a return to those frontiers would expose Israel's heartland to rocket fire from the West Bank. And he says the fate of settlements should be left to negotiations.


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