Al-Quds should be open for all, capital of two states: Abbas
Sunday, February 16, 2014
By Qais Abu Samra
RAMALLAH - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted on Sunday that Al-Quds should remain open to the followers of all faiths and become the capital of Palestine and Israel.
"We do not want Al-Quds to be divided; we want it an open city where Jews coexist side by side with the Palestinians," Abbas told a delegation of 170 Israeli youths who visited him at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Palestinian leader criticized, meanwhile, Israel's continued settlement building.
"We will not recognize a Jewish state and will not accept the presence of Israeli soldiers on Palestinian territories," he insisted.
Abbas said his government strives to take steps forward in making peace with the Israelis with the aim of creating a Palestinian state on all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 with Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) as its capital.
"The Palestinian leadership hopes that peace negotiations with the Israelis would succeed," he added, noting that April 29 would be the deadline for these negotiations.
Abbas vowed that he would not allow the conflict with the Israelis to turn violent.
He briefed the Israeli youths about conditions in the Palestinian territories as well as Israeli practices on the ground, accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian water.
Dozens of Palestinians staged a demonstration on Sunday to protest Abbas meeting with the Israeli youths.
US-brokered peace talks between the two sides had resumed last July after a three-year hiatus.
However, talks hit a snag following the self-proclaimed Jewish state's recent announcement that it had planned to build a host of new Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian negotiators insist that Israeli settlement construction must stop before a comprehensive final-status agreement can be reached.
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