Palestinian Leader to Send Demands to Israel

Jerusalem, April 9 – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to send a letter to Israel next week detailing preconditions for the renewal of peace talks and threatening unilateral action if his demands aren’t met.

Abbas will give Israel one month to respond positively, otherwise the Palestinians threaten they will again turn to the United Nations, theHa’aretz Newspaper reported.

The letter is expected to state that the Palestinians will not return to the negotiating table unless Israel first stops all construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, accepts a Palestinian state based on the 1967 ceasefire lines, and releases Palestinian political prisoners, the Palestinan Ma’an news agency reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously stated Israel wants direct peace talks to resume immediately, with no pre-conditions.

It is not clear if the Abbas move is due to the breakdown in unity talks with the rival Hamas terrorist organization that took control of Gaza in 2007 after ousting Abbas’ Fatah government there in a bloody coup. Peace talks have been stuck in part due to the Palestinian split, with Abbas ruling in the West Bank and Hamas controlling Gaza.

Hamas rejects the peace process and has repeatedly stated its refusal to sign a peace treaty with Israel, saying its goal is armed conflict to destroy the Jewish state. “I have said several times in the past that the Palestinian Authority must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel. Hamas and peace do not go together,” Netanyahu said in February when Abbas announced the reconciliation deal with Hamas.

Over the weekend, Palestinians in Gaza fired three more rockets at Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza, bringing the toll to some 342 rockets and mortars fired at Israeli civilian targets so far in 2012.

“Perhaps Abbas is willing to talk again to Israel because both the U.N. statehood bid and the reconciliation with Hamas are going nowhere,” the Times of Israel commented. “But if he and Netanyahu do not change key policies and positions, the same will be said of the upcoming effort to resume negotiations.”

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