Abbas at the White House: We Have No Time to Waste

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2014 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Monday said, during a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in Washington to discuss peace talks, ‘time is so tight and we don’t have any to waste particularly given the extremely difficult situations in the Middle East… we hope that we would be able to seize this opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.’

Abbas said, ‘there is an agreement between us and the Israelis through U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry concerning prisoners issue and we hope the fourth batch of prisoners will be released on the 29thof March, which will give a very solid impression on the seriousness of all efforts exerted to achieve peace.’

He pointed out that ‘we have been reaching our hands to our Israeli neighbors for a just peace since 1988, and since then we have recognized the resolutions of the international legitimacy, which was a brave step on part of the Palestinian leadership at that time—and in 1993 we clearly recognized the state of Israel.’

Abbas stressed the continuation of efforts for a solution based on the international legitimacy and the 1967 borders so that the Palestinian people will gain their independent state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, and a just agreed upon solution for refugees issue.

He thanked Obama for his country’s political and economic support for the state of Palestine to stand on its  feet and for giving this historical opportunity to continue with the U.S. administration’s exerted efforts in order to achieve peace and end this Israeli-Arab conflict.

‘We count on your efforts, which you exert despite of your many international concerns, in order to achieve peace as soon as possible,’ said Abbas.

Meanwhile, Obama commended  Abbas as saying, ‘ He [Abbas] has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.

He added, ‘This is obviously an elusive goal, and there’s a reason why it’s taken decades for us to even get to the point where we are now— But we remain convinced that there is an opportunity.’

He said, ‘I think everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ‘67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long.’

‘I believe that now is the time for not just the leaders of both sides but also the peoples of both sides to embrace this opportunity for peace. But we’re going to have a lot of details that we’re going to have to discuss,’ added Obama.

‘It’s very hard; it’s very challenging.  We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward,’ he added.

Obama pointed out that the Palestinian Authority has continued to try to build strong institutions in preparation for a day in which the Palestinians have their own state, and that he will continue to emphasize the importance of rule of law, transparency, and effective reform so that not only do the Palestinians ultimately have a state on paper, but, more importantly, they have one that actually delivers on behalf of their people.

‘The United States obviously has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority—We’re the largest humanitarian donor and continue to help to try to foster economic development and opportunity and prosperity for people,’ said Obama.

‘I look forward to a productive discussion, and continue to hope that you and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but, more importantly, the people of the Palestinian Territories and Israel are ready to move forward in a new spirit of cooperation and compromise,’ Obama concluded.