Abbas: it’s time to establish Palestinian statehood

By Xinhua

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Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that it is time to create an independent Palestinian statehood existing alongside Israel to end 60 years of suffering.

Abbas made the remarks during a joint news conference with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in West Bank city of Ramallah after their meeting.

He reiterated that Jerusalem should be the capital of the future statehood.

Rice, who arrived here earlier in the day for talks with Palestinian leadership, is on her latest Mideast tour to prepare for a U.S.-sponsored peace conference that is initially set for November where the yet-unspecified conferees will discus resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

During their meeting, Abbas and Rice focused their discussion on how to make November peace conference successful.

“The conference should be a serious beginning leading to ending the Israeli occupation which has been in place since the 1967 according to the international resolutions,” Abbas underlined.

In addition, the Palestinian leader also briefed Rice on his serious efforts “to reach a framework of agreement to apply solution to final status issues” including the Palestinian borders, Jerusalem, and the refugees.

To agree on this, Abbas said he has been meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the hope of “reaching a deal, including a timetable, to apply to the final solutions.”

For her part, Rice promised to work very hard with Abbas and Olmert “to lay the groundwork for a successful meeting” in November that will advance “the cause of a Palestinian state.”

Rice also supported the formation of joint Israeli-Palestinian committees to try to reach a deal ahead of the conference, saying any such agreement will be of great importance for the gathering.

Abbas said he will meet President George W. Bush when attending the UN General Assembly annual meetings, which is to start on September 25, “to continue intensive talks to reach a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

In July, Bush proposed to hold a peace conference in the United States this fall to find a way to resume the stalled peace process and end the Middle East conflict between the Arabs and Israel.

Abbas slammed an Israeli decision to declare the Hamas-run Gaza Strip a “hostile entity” due to the continued rocket attacks on southern Israel.

“This raises our condemnation and such a term (hostile entity) holds a dangerous political meaning,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also called on immediate suspension of Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, especially building the settlements, the West Bank barrier and the daily ground operations in West Bank cities.

“All of these form a big source of worry to us and would bring negative effects on the security and stability,” Abbas warned, highlighting the necessity to lift the closure and blockade on the territories, basically the Gaza Strip.