November 20, 2010

Abbas: US aid to Israel must not be linked to talks


Israeli occupation forces attack a Palestinian woman.

DUBAI (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said he refuses to link the troubled Middle East peace process with a US offer of additional military aid to its Israeli ally, in a newspaper interview published on Friday.

"We refuse to allow the offer of planes be linked in any way to a freeze on settlements," he told the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

"We have nothing to do with all that. This is our position and it will not change," said Abbas, who insists on a renewed Israeli moratorium on settlement building before he returns to direct US-brokered peace talks with Israel.

"The United States is an ally of Israel and we can not prevent that," said the president.

"But let their aid be carried out far removed from the Palestinian peace negotiations and not be used as a pretext for giving more weaponry to Israel," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to consider a renewed moratorium in exchange for a package of US incentives, reportedly including the delivery of an additional 20 warplanes to Israel.

Washington's aim is to bring Abbas back to the negotiating table.

Direct peace negotiations resumed on September 2 but collapsed three weeks later when Netanyahu refused to extend restrictions on settlement expansion which expired in late September.

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