TEL AVIV – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the Palestinians will accept nothing less than a full Israeli withdrawal from territories Israel captured in the 1967 war and the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
“Our nation will not agree in any way to less than a full end to the Israeli occupation that began in June 1967 and the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” Abbas said in a statement.
“The Palestinian leadership adheres to the principle of a two-state solution. The Palestinian side rejects any attempt to alter the Arab [peace] initiative,” he added.
Sunday was Jerusalem Day, with Israelis marking 49 years since the unification of Jerusalem and the capture of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, a date that Palestinians observe as the Naksa, meaning “setback” in Arabic, marking the neighboring Arab armies’ failure to defeat Israel. Naksa is not to be confused with Nakba, meaning “catastrophe,” which marks the Arab armies’ defeat by the newly founded Jewish state in 1948.
The status of Jerusalem is a central issue in any future Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Abbas said that “our people today in memory [of the June setback] are more insistent and determined to achieve their goals, and gain their legitimate national rights, particularly the right to freedom and independence, and the establishment of their independent state, with its capital in East Jerusalem, the liberation of all prisoners, and to maintain our national symbols and holy places.”
On Friday, representatives of 28 countries met in Paris for a conference aimed at resuming the moribund Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israel was not invited to the conference. A statement released by the group said that by year’s end a summit will be in the works and that in the meantime it is incumbent on both sides to work on trust-building measures.
Israel, which was not invited to the conference, opposes the Paris effort, saying that negotiations cannot be imposed from outside.
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports the Saudi-led 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demands an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the creation of a Palestinian state in exchange for ties with Arab countries.