CAIRO, July 30, 2013 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that the United States was serious in solving the Middle East conflict and that both US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry have promised to support negotiations until there is a solution.
Abbas made these statements to Egyptian journalists before leaving Cairo later that day following a short visit during which he met President Adli Mansour and other top Egyptian officials to discuss bilateral relations, the conflict with Israel, the situation in the Gaza Strip and reconciliation efforts between his Fatah movement and Hamas, which controls Gaza.
Abbas said negotiations with Israel, which started in Washington over the dinner table on Monday night Washington time between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams with US presence, will be bilateral and trilateral with US participation in the beginning and will discuss all issues, including political, economic and security, but mainly political.
He said the negotiations, which will be for between six to nine months, will focus in the beginning on borders and security and will later discuss all permanent status issues such as refugees, water and other issues.
He said the issue of the pre-Oslo prisoners was a difficult one but it was possible to solve it.
He said Israel has agreed to release 104 prisoners held since before signing the Oslo accords in 1993 in three or four batches and there is now talk about release of another 250 prisoners arrested after Oslo.
Abbas commended the European Union for deciding not to deal with products made in the Israeli settlements illegally built in the occupied West Bank. He said he supports all EU decisions on this matter.
Abbas also stressed the Palestinian position of non-interference in internal Arab affairs, mainly in the internal affairs in Egypt.
“I hope the Egyptian media will understand that the majority of the Palestinian people believe in non-interference in internal Egyptian affairs and that their main goal is to get rid of the (Israeli) occupation of their country,” he said.
Abbas spoke about the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt and about the smuggling tunnels and said that it is important to find a legal solution to the crossing that would allow reopening Rafah crossing for people and cargo as it was in 2005 when the Palestinian Authority managed it along with the European Union with Israeli approval.
He said he was opposed to the smuggling tunnels started seven years ago following the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
Abbas said he discussed the issue of the crossing and the tunnels with his Egyptian counterpart.
On reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas with Egyptian mediation, Abbas said that Egypt will remain the party overseeing reconciliation efforts until an agreement is reached.
He stressed that the negotiations that have kicked off in Washington on Monday should not affect reconciliation efforts since both should be moving alongside each other.
He said he was still eager to see the reconciliation take hold with the establishment of a unity government by the middle of next month as agreed by the two parties after which presidential and legislative elections will be held within three months in all the Palestinian Territory.
source : WAFA NEWS