Abbas: Collective Punishment, Tax Freeze Won’t Bring Peace

RAMALLAH, January 20, 2015 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday affirmed that neither the expansion of Israeli settlements nor collective punishment, tax revenues’ freeze or racial discrimination against the Palestinian people would nourish peace in the region.

Speaking during a press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Presidential headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas stated that Israel should choose between making peace and continuing illegal settlement expansion at the expense of the Palestinian people.

He noted that peace, security and stability could not be achieved unless Israel acknowledges that a historical injustice has been inflicted upon the Palestinians and recognizes their rights in an independent state.

Abe visited the occupied Palestinian Territory as part of an official trip to the Middle East before being reportedly forced to cancel it in the wake of the video footage showing two Japanese hostages by the so-called Islamic State group.

Abe informed Abbas of the kidnapping of Japanese hostages, to which Abbas expressed Palestinians’ absolute support and solidarity.

Abbas condemned the kidnapping of the two Japanese by group, which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, stating “Our hearts go out to you…and we condemn such measure.”

 

He told Abe, terrorism is totally unacceptable and Palestinians will help in facing it. He also hoped that the issue would be solved and the hostages freed soon. “We strongly condemn anew such heinous actions that violate all religious laws and human and moral values.”

Addressing Israelis, Abbas said: “Our hands remain extended to peace. They have to choose between peacemaking and settlement expansion at our expense. Peace will not be brought about by the collective punishment imposed by Israel on the Palestinians through the ongoing freeze of our money nor by the apartheid practices in our territory or the ongoing detention of thousands of Palestinian detainees.”

Abbas emphasized his commitment to peace and the resumption of negotiations based on the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant United Nations resolutions.

He briefed Abe, on the latest political development, including the formation of an Arab ministerial committee to pass a new United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that would lay the foundations for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, based on a specific timeline.

 

He also praised Japan’s continuous support for the independence of the Palestinian economy and the process of institution-building.

On his part, Shinzo Abe, announced his government’s new contribution of $100 million to the reconstruction of the war-battered Gaza Strip, as well as to help create new job opportunities, and to support the health sector.

 

He added that his country will dispatch, in April, a delegation of Japanese experts, specialized in building small businesses.

 

Abbas said the Palestinian people “will never forget the honorable positions” of Japan throughout the past years, including its support of the Palestinian refugees and support provided to the health and agriculture sectors.”

He praised Japan for voting in favor of Palestinian statehood during a UNSC motion in 2012, upon which Palestine was granted the position of an Observer member country.

Abe wished for Palestine and Israel to live in peace, saying Japan is determined to continue its support to a peace based on a two-state solution.

He added, “We are concerned about the deterioration in the situation regarding the peace process since 2014 and the deterioration in chances of achieving peace.

 

 

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