Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that US-brokered indirect peace talks with Israel could quickly collapse if they do not focus on core issues like the final borders of a Palestinian state.
Israel says it is willing to address key issues in the indirect talks beginning Wednesday but maintains that their resolution can only come in direct negotiations.
“Negotiations will focus on final status issues and there’s no need to enter into details and small matters because we have had enough of that in the previous negotiations,” Abbas said after talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the Jordanian capital.
Abbas gave the talks four months to make progress. After that, he said, he will seek Arab League advice on next steps.
“We said the indirect negotiations will last only four months,” Abbas said. “After that, we will go to the Arab League to consult on whether to continue or what to do.”
The Palestinians have refused to hold direct talks with Israel until it freezes all Jewish construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem – areas the Palestinians want for a future state along with the Gaza Strip.
Abbas said crucial issues to be discussed in the indirect talks with Israel must include the final borders of a future Palestinian state.
US mediator George Mitchell will get the indirect talks going in a meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas is expected to formally join the negotiations after getting final approval from the Palestine Liberation Organization on Saturday. However, he will meet Mitchell before the vote.
Earlier Wednesday, Abbas met held consultations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The meeting came two days after Netanyahu travelled to Egypt for talks with Mubarak.
Abbas and Mubarak discussed “preparing suitable conditions” for the indirect talks, the Egyptian official news agency MENA reported.