Last updated: 11 July, 2012

US envoy Burns meets Abbas in West Bank

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met on Wednesday with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss the stalled peace process, the official WAFA news agency said.

“President Abbas briefed Burns on the latest developments in the political process, which is stalled because of the intransigent position of the Israeli government,” a statement from Abbas’s office published by WAFA said.

It accused Israel of “refusing to adhere to the agreements signed between the two sides and the terms of reference of the peace process, to halt settlement activity and release prisoners arrested before 1994.”

“The president emphasised the resumption of negotiations requires pressure on the Israeli government to implement its commitment to halt settlement activities, including in Jerusalem, and to accept the principle of a two-state solution,” the statement said.

“These are not Palestinian pre-conditions, but the obligations of Israel under the (Middle East peace) roadmap,” it quoted Abbas as saying, referring to an agreement signed by both sides.

Direct peace negotiations have been on hold since late September 2010 following an intractable dispute over settlements.

The Palestinians are demanding that Israel halt construction on land they want for a future state and accept a framework for talks on borders.

And Abbas has also said Israel must release 123 Palestinians it has held since before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, claiming Israel committed to free them but has yet to do so.

Israel says it will not freeze settlement activity and is pushing for an immediate return to talks without preconditions.

The United States has worked within the framework of the peacemaking Quartet alongside its partners from the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, to chart a path back to negotiations, so far without success.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli officials on July 16-17, her first visit for almost two years.

She “will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern,” according to the State Department. She is not scheduled to meet with Palestinian officials.