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Israel prefers West Bank status quo continue, Abbas says

Arab-Israel Relations Materials 16 April 2012 17:39 (UTC +04:00)
Israel prefers West Bank status quo continue, Abbas says
Israel prefers West Bank status quo continue, Abbas says

Israel does not want to annex the West Bank but instead prefers to continue the status quo resulting from the occupation of Palestinian territory, President Mahmoud Abbas dpa reported

Israel, he told the Ma'an news agency, in an interview published in English on Monday, "talks about the two-state solution without taking a single step towards that solution ... (they are) comfortable with the status quo."

Israel only paid lip service to the two state solution, he said, using it as a sop to public opinion. But "at the same time do not want annexation because the population burden" this would mean.

The President's comments come the day before Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is to meet Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, for the first high-level meeting between the sides since January.

Fayyad is expected to give Netanyahu a letter form Abbas, which reportedly will include a warning that the two-state solution could collapse unless Israel changes its current policies.

And Netanyahu's envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, is expected to meet with Abbas and give him a letter about Israel's position regarding a future agreement with the Palestinians, the premier's office said.

Apart from a few short-lived efforts, there have been no negotiations in the past three years since Netanyahu took office at the head of a right-wing government. The Palestinians have conditioned talks on a freeze of Israeli construction in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem while Israel insists on talks without pre-conditions.

Abbas told Ma'an that a settlement construction halt was not a precondition, but "a commitment present in all agreements."

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