Abbas administered coup de grace to peace process: Israel

AFP , Saturday 26 Apr 2014

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas administered the coup de grace to the peace process in a speech Saturday in which he repeated his conditions for extending talks, a senior Israeli official said.

In remarks to the PLO's Central Council, Abbas said talks could continue if Israel freezes settlement construction, frees prisoners and begins discussion on the borders of a promised Palestinian state.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) administered the coup de grace to the peace process today," the official said. He "recycled the same conditions, after he already knows Israel won't accept them."

Abbas was speaking three days after a reconciliation deal with the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and which is pledged to the destruction of Israel.

He stressed that the new unity government he would head under that agreement would reject violence and recognise Israel and existing agreements.

And he stressed that the new government would not be charged with negotiations, but rather the PLO.

On Thursday, Israel said it would not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, which has always rejected peace talks.

The official said the Palestinian alliance came "while Israel was making sincere efforts to advance negotiations with the Palestinians."

Efforts to extend hitherto fruitless talks beyond their April 29 deadline hit a wall last month when Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinians retaliated by applying to adhere to 15 international treaties as Abbas listed conditions for extending the talks beyond the deadline, which Israel had refused last week.

The Israeli official blamed Abbas of "time and again" thwarting Israeli and US efforts to extend talks, until "violating existent agreements by unilaterally applying to the UN conventions."

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