Ramallah: The recent Quartet proposal to resume peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is "positive", Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday.
"The proposal clearly sets terms of reference to the peace process with a focus on the two-state solution," he said. "The Palestinian UN bid was never meant to be an alternative to negotiations, but something to assist in preparing the necessary environment for serious negotiations, which can bear results," he said.
Abbas said a total of 148 states worldwide recognised Palestine as an independent state on June 4, 1967, of which 17 states are members of the Council of Europe and 24 other European countries have advanced diplomatic relationships with Palestine with promises to recognise Palestine in the future.
"Frankly and honestly speaking now is just the right time to do so," said Abbas. He stressed that the Israeli colonial activities in the Palestinian Territories remain the key obstacle in the way of peace, adding that the number of Israeli colonists have increased by 300 per cent since the Oslo Accord was signed in year 1994.
"When we refuse the Israeli colonial activities, we are protecting both the Palestinian and Israeli nations from occupation and colonisation. The Israelis should make up their minds and choose between peace and colonisation," he said.
"We have chosen peace and now it’s time for the Israelis to make a choice," he added. "Peace makes security, but the military force will never be able bring security," he said.
He said the Israeli colonists are working in all possible ways to drag the Palestinians to the circle of violence. "I assure you that the Israeli colonists will not succeed and the Palestinians will never resort to extremism and violence," he said.
Abbas stressed that the Palestinians can never accept the Israeli precondition of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. “This condition is not acceptable,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) demanded on Thursday from the Mideast Quartet some clarifications on its latest proposal for negotiations. After meeting with UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry at the PLO premises in Ramallah, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee said in a statement that the credibility of the Mideast Quartet is on the line.
“The Quartet should come up with effective steps on the ground to make the political process more serious and credible in a way which secures the implementation of a two-state solution,” she said.
Ashrawi questioned article No. 5 of the Quartet proposal which called upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions.
“Does that article tackle the issue of Israeli colonial activities in the Palestinian territories?” she asked. “If that was the case, what measures can be taken to force Israel sticks to it?” she added.
“The Palestinian side stands in urgent need for some clarifications from the Quartet on its proposal,” she said. Ashrawi said that the Palestinians also need to find out whether there was a real international will to follow up with the Israeli premeditated failure to commit, stressing the need for the existence of a referee to the question Israel on its failure to commit and impose sanctions on it.
“We want to find whether the Mideast Quartet is willing and capable to play that role or will it go on with its role of issuing condmenations and statements which gives Israel the chance to expand its colonial activities and steal more of the Palestinian properties and water,” she said. “We will follow up with the measures on the ground and see how those measures are implemented,” she stressed.
A PLO official told Gulf News that Palestinian demands have explicitly been mentioned in the Quartet proposal but the Palestinians are trying to highlight those demands and get them in clear terms so that Israel does not have a chance to violate the articles. The official stressed that the proposal also mentioned US President’s Obama’s speech on May 19th, which clearly based the future Palestinian state within 1967 borders.