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Palestinian President Abbas Says 'Ready' for Paris Peace Talks

FILE - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank, March 9, 2016.
FILE - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank, March 9, 2016.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a gathering of the Arab League Saturday that the body he represents is ready to accept a “fair and just peace” based on internationally recognized U.N. resolutions in accordance with the 2003 Arab peace initiative. A French-sponsored peace conference is due to begin in Paris on June 3.

Arab League foreign ministers met Saturday at the group’s headquarters here in Cairo to discuss resumption of the long-stalled Arab-Israeli peace process. France has offered to host a peace conference on July 3 to help jump start negotiations.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the gathering that his side was willing to attend the conference and resume talks, but in accordance with previously-stipulated conditions:

He says that the ultimate goal of the peace process is the “two-state solution” with each state living side-by-side in peace and that a peace accord should be based on historic U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, as well as the 2003 Arab peace initiative and the “road map” for peace.

Abbas pointed out that once the terms of a peace agreement were reached, 57 Arab and Islamic states would then recognize and establish relations with the state of Israel. He also stressed that the peace initiative must have a fixed time frame, as well as an implementation mechanism.

The Palestinian leader, however, remained intransigent on a number of issues which have proved to be stumbling blocks in previous negotiations:

He insists that East Jerusalem must be the capital of Palestine alone and not of both states. He also reiterated that borders of both states must be based on the historic June 4, 1967 borders, with some very minor adjustments to be negotiated, along with small trades of territory.

Arab foreign ministers in attendance also expressed their consent for the new peace initiative, and outgoing Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby stressed that efforts were being redoubled to get the peace process moving again:

He insists that a just and comprehensive peace was the goal of the recent initiative that was put forth by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, along with efforts being made by France to convene a peace conference in Paris on June 3.

Gulf-based Arab analyst Theodore Karasik tells VOA that he thinks there appears to be "some movement" with the Arab-Israeli peace process, but that he doesn't believe that the "stars are aligned" so as to lead to a breakthrough. He argues that it is more likely that there will be an "intra-Arab struggle over (the militant) Hamas (group)" which controls Gaza.

President Sissi met with PA leader Abbas several weeks ago to help pave the way for resumption of peace talks and is due to meet with him again over the weekend following the Arab League meeting.