Abbas willing ‘at any moment’ to restart Israel talks
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Monday in Colombia said he was willing “at any moment” to restart peace negotiations with Israel aimed at a settlement that allows them to exist side by side as states.
“We are in favor of peaceful negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, alongside the state of Israel,” Abbas said in Bogota, where he is on a Latin American tour to rally support for UN recognition.
“We are at any moment willing to return to the negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind,” he said, during an event where he was declared an honorary citizen of Bogota by the city’s mayor.
The Middle East Quartet (United States, Russia, United Nations and the European Union) has called for a resumption of negotiations.
Israel on Sunday accepted with reservations a plan proposed by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, while the Palestinians have said there will be no negotiations until Israel freezes settlement — a demand they say is written into the Quartet proposal.
The Palestinian leader is due Tuesday to hold talks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has previously said that Bogota, which has a seat on the UN Security Council, would abstain in a vote on recognition of statehood.
Israel on September 27 approved a plan to build 1,100 new homes in a Jewish settlement, prompting an angry reaction from the Palestinians who said it amounted to a direct rejection of international efforts to restart peace talks.
Colombia has argued that recognition of a Palestinian state should come through negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinian move for UN recognition is strongly opposed by both Israel and the United States, which say a Palestinian state can only emerge through bilateral negotiations.
Six Security Council members — Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa — have publicly indicated their backing for the Palestinian bid.