Ramallah – Palestinian officials have dismissed Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress, saying it will not lead to peace. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said the speech merely added obstacles on the road to peace, the BBC reports. On Tuesday, Netanyahu had told the US Congress that Israel was “willing to make painful compromises” to achieve peace. But he rejected US President Barack Obama’s call for a peace deal based on pre-1967 borders, plus land swaps.
Abbas said the Israeli prime minister’s speech “contained nothing we can build on”, adding that if no progress was made towards peace talks by September, the Palestinians would seek UN recognition unilaterally.
“Our first choice is negotiations, but if there is no progress before September we will go to the United Nations,” Abbas told the Palestinian Legislative Committee at a meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the speech proved Israel could not be a partner for peace in the region.
Erekat said Israeli PM was seeking to “dictate the results” of negotiations before they had begun. He dictated that Jerusalem will be undivided, that refugees cannot return, that his army will remain on the borders, that his settlements will be expanded and kept, that he wants Palestine to be demilitarised,” Erekat said.
Speaking to a supportive bipartisan audience at the US Capitol in Washington, Netanyahu urged Abbas to “tear up” a recent reconciliation agreement with Islamist party Hamas, which controls Gaza. He said Israel could not make peace with a faction that did not recognise its right to exist. But a Hamas spokesman dismissed his remarks.