Abbas sets new conditions for peace talks with Israel

Ramallah, April 23: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he will accept to extend the peace talks with Israel if the latter releases the final group of Palestinian prisoners and freezes settlement construction.

If Israel believes in the two-state solution, it should negotiate with the Palestinians to set the borders of both countries within a period of one month, two months, or three months, he added.

“But they (the Israelis) must freeze settlement activity during the negotiations time,” Xinhua quoted Abbas as saying.

It is the first time Abbas has raised such ideas to extend the peace talks, which will end later this month, since the Middle East peace talks hit a brick wall after Israel refused to release the final group of long-term Palestinian prisoners scheduled to be freed last month.

In response to the Israeli refusal, the Palestinians signed a request to join 15 UN agencies and conventions, which drew Israeli threats to impose economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority.

Palestinians halted endeavors to join UN treaties when the peace talks resumed last July, in exchange of the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.