Abbas to Tell US No Peace without Two-state Deal

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday he will tell U.S. President Barack Obama later this month that resuming peace talks with Israel hinges on its approval of a two-state solution.

"We will go the Washington on May 28 to talk with the U.S. administration about our conditions to resume peace negotiations with Israel in the future," Abbas was quoted in a palace statement after meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

"Our conditions and demands are based on the two-state solution and Israel’s halt of settlement building as well as house demolitions. These are our demands and the demands of the Americans themselves to resume the talks."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far failed to publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state, a principle strongly backed by the White House.

Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory — supported by Netanyahu’s largely right-wing government –are one of the main stumbling blocks in the troubled Middle East peace process.

The Palestinians are demanding that Netanyahu back a two-state solution — to which Israel committed itself under the roadmap peace plan launched by the international community in 2003 — before the two sides resume talks.

While the world waits to see how Obama weighs in, the 27-nation European Union has linked an unfreezing of plans to upgrade ties with Israel to Netanyahu committing to negotiate a two-state accord.

That drew rebukes from Israel, where officials said the E.U. risked undermining its peacemaking clout.

Israelis have traditionally looked to Washington to take the lead in Middle East diplomacy, regarding Europe — with its burgeoning Muslim minorities — as latently pro-Arab.
 
Meshaal Re-elected

Meanwhile exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was re-elected head of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s politburo, according to a statement from the group in Damascus.

Mahmoud Zahar and Khalil al-Hayya, both senior leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, were also elected members of the politburo in an internal vote, the group’s top decision-making body, it said in a statement on Sunday.

Meshaal, who is one of Israel’s most wanted men, lives in exile in Damascus. He was born in May 1956 in a West Bank village but has lived most of his life outside the Palestinian territories.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 when it drove out forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party of, further exacerbating a long-running feud.

The two rival factions have been holding talks in Cairo aimed at forming a unity government but have so far failed to reach any agreement and negotiations have been adjourned until May 16.

The Hamas statement did not disclose the identities of the politburo’s members in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Abbas has his power base. Both groups have complained about tit-for-tat arrests of their members by the rival factions.

Meshaal became the leader of Hamas, after Israel assassinated the group’s spiritual leader and founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and his successor Abdel Aziz Rantissi in 2004.

Israel failed in a bid to assassinate Meshaal in 1997 in Jordan.

(Agencies)

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