Speaking to dozens of Palestinians at the Egyptian embassy in New York, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Palestinian Authority will withdraw from peace talks should Israel refrain from halting its settlement activities.Out of nearly 600,000, there are nearly 260,000 Palestinian voters, in the United States. Dozens of Palestinians came from California, Massachusetts, Washington, Chicago and several other states to attend the meeting with president Abbas.
The Palestinian president told the Palestinian who attended the meeting that he knows that they had to travel long distances to meet him and to get informed on the latest developments.
He told them that the Palestinian leadership made it clear to Israel and the United States that peace talks will be halted should Israel continue its violations and settlement activities.
“If they want negotiations, they must cease all settlement activities”, Abbas said. “If they fail to do so, we will withdraw from the talks”.
“The Israelis are telling us that we previously held peace talks amidst ongoing settlement activities,” Abbas said. “We all demanded Israel to halt its settlement activities, but now, things have changes, we cannot tolerate this issue any more”.
He also said that the Palestinian Authority is negotiating on the basis of establishing an independent Palestinian state in the 1967 borders.
“We have no objection to land swaps as long as they are the same size and value, we have no objection to international troops, such as the NATO or the UNIFIL”, Abbas added, “But we will not accept settlers in our land”.
As for Jerusalem, Abbas said that East Jerusalem is the capital of the future Palestinian state, and the western part is for Israel, and added that the Palestinian Authority does not object to having Jerusalem open for all faiths whilst keeping East Jerusalem as its capital.
Referring to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Abbas said that his Authority approved the Egyptian document for national unity.
“We formed a unity government with Hamas, the world isolated us but we did not care”, the Palestinian President added, “ We transfer 121 Million USD each month to the Gaza Strip, this is nearly 58% of our balance, but Hamas in Gaza does not care and cannot realize that 96% of the water in Gaza is polluted and cannot realize that Gaza’s economy is devastated; they made the people live by buying expensive products smuggled by tunnels”.
Yet, he vowed that should Hamas sign the Egyptian Unity Deal, he will form a unity government that would be capable of bringing 4.6 million USD to rebuild Gaza and rehabilitate its infrastructure. He also said that the second stage would be legislative and presidential elections.
“My term is office has ended, Hamas’ term has ended”, he stated, “Now I tell them let us hold democratic elections”.
As for the West Bank, Abbas said that there are several development projects there and that there are restaurants, theaters, and coffee shops that are open all night long.
“This happened because the people are feeling safe”, Abbas concluded, “What we are lacking is independence, our institutions are ready to run the state”.
He also said that he is against an armed Intifada, and that he “will not support any form of violence”. “This is what I said when I ran for office”, Abbas said, “This is still what am saying and what I will continue to say”.