Palestinian leader Abbas sends Israeli PM Netanyahu letter outlining demands for peace talks


Palestinian Authority president and head of the Fatah movement Mahmud Abbas at a Fatah 'Revolutionary Council' meeting in Ramallah on October 26, 2011.



A letter outlining the demands of the Palestinian Authority before stalled peace talks with Israel can resume has been formally handed over to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majed Faraj delivered the letter during a brief meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, at which both sides said they were “committed to reaching peace,” the BBC reports.

Netanyahu will reply to the letter within 14 days.

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The talks, which were set to be the highest-level discussions between the sides since September 2010, were portrayed by the Palestinians as a final effort to salvage negotiations before the presidential election season kicks off in the US.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was originally expected to attend, but pulled out at the last minute, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Fayyad’s office said he had never agreed to take part, although an official told the Associated Press that Fayyad had decided not to attend due to reservations over the letter’s contents and concerns about public opposition to the meeting.

The meeting took place as 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a mass hunger strike in protest against “humiliating” measures and conditions inside the prisons.

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According to a copy of Tuesday’s note seen by the Agence France Presse, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of effectively neutering his administration in the West Bank:

“As a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, territorial and security spheres,” he writes.

Bloomberg, citing a World Bank report from March 15, reports that the Palestinian Authority is set to face a 2012 deficit of about $1.1 billion. The deficit is due to declining donor funds, sluggish economic growth and Israeli restrictions that hinder trade and development.

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Negotiations on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict fell apart around a year and a half ago following a dispute over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In his letter, Abbas requests that Israel outline its position on four key issues “as soon as possible”: the principle of a two-state solution based on the borders in place before the 1967 Middle East War, an end to settlement activity, the release of all Palestinian prisoners, and the revocation of all decisions which undermine bilateral agreements reached since 2000.