Abbas attacks Tel Aviv and urges Arabs to send peacekeepers
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sharply criticised Israel yesterday, accusing it of wrecking peace negotiations with settlement construction. He also urged Arab leaders to send troops to protect Palestinians.
Abbas, right, spoke to a summit of Arab leaders in Damascus that was dominated by hard-liners on the Israeli-Arab peace process after leaders from pro-American Arab states boycotted the gathering because of disputes with Syria.
The summit comes as US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice headed to the region for talks with Arab and Israeli leaders on the peace process.
In his speech at the summit opening, Abbas took a sharply pessimistic tone over Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations launched in December.
"The coming couple of months are decisive. If we don't reach a solution by the end of this year, it means the whole region will be on the verge of a new era of tension and loss of confidence in peace," Abbas said.
In particular, he attacked Israeli settlement expansion and recent Israeli military assaults in the Gaza Strip aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire on Israeli towns. Earlier this month, Israel waged a Gaza offensive that killed some 120 Palestinians.
"The last few months have witnessed unprecedented Israeli escalation in settlement expansion in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It has become clear that the Israeli government is imposing on the ground the political solution that it wants," Abbas said.
"Negotiations cannot continue under the Israeli bulldozers swallowing our land and building settlements, and under the daily Israeli military operations," he warned.
Abbas urged international mediators to pressure Israel to meet the requirements of the US 'road map' peace plan, which include a settlement freeze. It also calls on the Palestinians to take action to stop militant violence.
Abbas asked Arab countries to "think seriously of Arab and international protection for our people".
Abbas has called in the past for international peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip, a proposal widely rejected. His call yesterday at an Arab summit in Damascus was the first time he had urged Arab countries specifically to send their forces.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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