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Obama must press Israel on 1967 borders: Palestinians

by Staff Writers
Ramallah, Palestinian Territories (AFP) May 20, 2011
Palestinian leaders Friday pressured US President Barack Obama to insist that Israel must accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas reacted angrily after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly told Obama in White House talks that Israel could not return to the "indefensible" 1967 territorial lines.

"Netanyahu's position is an official rejection of Mr Obama's initiative, of international legitimacy and of international law," Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

"We call on President Obama and the Mideast Quartet to pressure Netanyahu to accept the 1967 borders," he said.

Top Palestine Liberation Organisation official Yasser Abed Rabbo said the "PLO favourably welcomes the Obama principles on the 1967 borders."

"If Israel accepts the Obama principles, we are ready to resume direction negotiations very soon."

In a keynote policy speech on Thursday, Obama included a clear call for Israel and the Palestinians to use the lines that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war as the basis for new talks to reach a peace deal.

Abed Rabbo said Israel had to choose between Obama's call for a Palestinian state within 1967 borders or recognition of a state by the United Nations, which the Palestinians have threatened to push for in September.

Hamas, which has just concluded a reconciliation deal with Abbas's Fatah party, said Netanyahu's position showed the "absurdity" of talks with Israel.

"The announcement from Netanyahu that there would be no retreat from the borders of the Occupied Territories proves the absurdity of negotiations and the pointlessness of continuing to run after the mirage of a compromise," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

"We call for the adoption of an Arab and Palestinian strategy based on resistance and the preservation of our rights in the face of this Israeli arrogance," he added.

The Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, this month signed a surprise unity agreement with the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Fatah runs the West Bank.

Abu Rudeina also said that Abbas considered Netanyahu's opposition to the reconciliation deal to be "unacceptable interference" in Palestinian affairs.

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