Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday rebuffed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s accusations made during U.S. talks, blaming Palestinians for stalled peace moves.
Sharon told U.S. President George W. Bush at a meeting in Texas on Monday that Palestinian inaction to dismantle militant groups was holding up any start to a ‘road map’ peace process.
According to Israeli media sources, Sharon also told Bush that Abbas was on the verge of collapsing, advising the U.S. president to start planning for the post-Abbas era.
‘President Abbas expresses surprise and astonishment at the campaign launched against the Palestinian Authority during Sharon’s visit to the United States,’ the Palestinian presidency said in a statement.
The statement accuses Israel of holding up peacemaking by delaying pullbacks from West Bank cities and releases of prisoners, continuing with raids and arrests and constantly violating the ceasefire terms.
‘[These are] obstacles placed before President Abbas’s efforts to restore calm and stability,’ the statement said,
‘President Abbas reaffirms that the Palestinian Authority is strong and united and ready to immediately begin final-status negotiations,’ the statement added.
‘We call on Israeli leaders to think about peace and security instead of wasting precious time, instead of wasting this opportunity to make peace,’ the statement concluded.