Abbas links talks to settlement halt, prisoners release
By Qais Abu Samra, Tuesday, April 29, 2014
RAMALLAH – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday reiterated readiness to engage in a new round of peace talks with Israel provided that settlement buildings are halted and the fourth batch of prisoners released.
"We are ready to return to the talks for three more months on the condition that Israel releases the prisoners, stops settlement building and agree to discuss the borders issue," Abbas said during a meeting of Al-Quds Support Fund.
The remarks coincided with the April 29 deadline originally set for the end of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The talks – which resumed in Washington last July after a nearly three-year hiatus – hit a snag in March after Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian prisoners as earlier pledged.
Abbas then formally applied for Palestinian membership in 15 U.N. conventions.
Israel has announced a series of punitive measures against the Palestinians after the Fatah movement of Abbas signed a reconciliation deal with rival Hamas last week.
The deal calls for the formation of a national unity government to pave the way for simultaneous presidential and parliamentary polls.
"We will start within days consultations to form a government of technocrats," Abbas said.
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