J Street Meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

May 8th, 2011

Abbas: We Would Defer UN Vote if ‘Credible Peace Process’ Resumes

JERUSALEM--In a meeting today with J Street's National Leadership Mission, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his willingness to proceed to immediate negotiations with Israel if a credible diplomatic initiative is put forward and Israel freezes settlement activity for two to three months. President Abbas reiterated that the months leading up to a possible September vote at the United Nations on Palestinian statehood provide a unique opportunity for action to achieve a negotiated resolution to the conflict. He affirmed that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which represents the Palestinian people in political negotiations, is willing to engage in talks within the framework recently put forward by England, France and Germany, known as the Trilateral Communiqué, and with a short-term settlement freeze. That framework calls, for example, for two states based on 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps; capitals for both states in Jerusalem; security arrangements that include de-militarization; and an agreed-upon resolution on refugees. He also reiterated the adherence of any government under his control to three essential commitments that have been made to the international community: (1) a renunciation of violence and terror; (2) a commitment to abide by prior agreements; and (3) recognition of Israel's right to exist through a two-state solution to the conflict. J Street's Leadership Mission visited Ramallah Sunday as part of nine-day mission to the region.  The group also met during the trip with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad and a range of other experts and organizations from all political perspectives. J Street presented its view to President Abbas that the PA must demonstrate an unwavering commitment to security through continued coordination with Israel and the United States, and that serious negotiations before September to achieve independence and statehood are preferable to turning to the United Nations. In addition, J Street asked President Abbas to do all he can in light of the reconciliation to secure the release of Gilad Shalit in a prisoner exchange as a signal of Palestinian intentions to pursue a peaceful end of conflict in the coming months. Commenting on the visit with the Palestinian leader, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said, "The moment of decision has arrived.  It is a time for leadership from the Palestinian President, and from the Israelis and Americans as well.  As President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu prepare to meet in the coming week, we hope they both will consider putting forward a serious initiative that includes meaningful parameters and a short-term halt to settlements.  If there is a chance to avoid action at the United Nations this fall, it is in America's interest to seize this opportunity and demand that both parties signal their seriousness of purpose in proceeding toward a two-state resolution of the conflict.”