Last updated: 18 February, 2014

Abbas: Core peace issues must be in line with international law

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Tuesday that all issues in the US-led peace negotiations with Israel, notably the refugee question, must be solved in line with international law.

Speaking on the eve of a meeting in Paris with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is shepherding the talks, Abbas said any peace deal would have to comply with international resolutions.

“We have shown the Peruvian president the destructive consequences of the settlement enterprise and the need for a just solution of the refugee question in line with UN resolution 194,” Abbas told reporters at a press conference with his Peruvian counterpart Ollanta Humala.

Palestinians insist that the question of those who fled or were forced out of their homes when Israel was created in 1948 be resolved on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which defines principles for their “right of return.”

“We also affirm the need to resolve all questions in line with international resolutions and law and to pursue all efforts to find a peaceful political solution to this conflict which has gone on for 65 years,” he said.

Humala said it was a “great honour for a Peruvian president to be making a first official visit” since Lima recognised Palestine as an independent state in January 2011, nearly two years before the Palestinians won upgraded status as a UN observer state.

The refugees question is one of several key issues that have come up during negotiations to end the conflict, which are due to end in April, although Kerry is working on a framework that would allow the talks to be extended until the end of the year.

Speaking to 250 Israeli students in Ramallah on Sunday, Abbas insisted he did not want “to flood Israel” with returning refugees, and Palestinian negotiators have said the right of return would “not create an existential crisis for Israel.”

But Israel fears such an acknowledgement would open the floodgates to millions of refugees, which would pose a demographic threat to the “Jewish and democratic character” of the state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on March 3 at a key meeting expected to focus on the peace talks and the question of a nuclear Iran.