President Mahmoud Abbas wants to return to negotiations “as soon as possible” to achieve peace based on a two-state solution, he said Tuesday.
“We are determined to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible to reach a solution for all the unresolved issues between us and Israel and to achieve peace on the basis of the two state solution,” the president said at a news conference in Ramallah with Maldivian President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
“I have stressed more than once that the Arabic and Islamic world would recognize Israel if it withdraws from the occupied lands, and a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital was established,” Abbas said.
The president praised the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to restart the peace process. The head of the PA’s civil affairs department Hussein al-Sheikh said Tuesday that Kerry had asked Abbas for extra time to continue diplomatic efforts to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.
“The ball is in the Israeli court,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah. “Palestinian demands are known by Israel and the US, and now it’s time for Israel to accept them in order to start the negotiations.”
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier that the Palestinians were making “every possible effort” to help Kerry succeed in bringing the two sides to the table.
“Make no mistake, we are exerting every possible effort for John Kerry’s peace plan to succeed,” Erekat said. “No one benefits more from the success of Kerry’s peace efforts, and no one suffers more from the failure, than the Palestinians,” he said.
New Government ‘in Days’
In his remarks in Ramallah, Abbas also said that his newly-appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah would announce a government “in a few days.”
Hamdallah said Tuesday he would only make minor reshuffles to the PA cabinet as his government is only expected to serve until August, when a unity government is due to be formed according to the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.
“We decided not to make major changes to the cabinet as new ministers take two or three months to be oriented,” Hamdallah said in Nablus.
The interim government will be committed to the political agenda of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamdallah said. It will focus on the economy, health and education as well as supporting Palestinian farmers to remain steadfast on their land, the prime minister added.
Meanwhile in Ramallah, the Maldivian president asserted his country’s support for two states as “the best solution to achieve peace in the Middle East.”
Hassan added: “To us this is a very emotional visit, because our people have always stood by the indisputable rights of the Palestinian people.”
The Maldivian president is not scheduled to meet any Israeli officials during his four-day visit to the region.