Palestinian Official Critical of Call for Talks With Israel

Posted September 24th, 2011 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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The Palestinian foreign minister says a new initiative calling for the resumption of peace talks with Israel is insufficient because it does not include a call for an Israeli settlement construction freeze.

Raid al-Malki criticized the plan from the Middle East Quartet on Saturday, a day after Palestinians formally launched a bid for United Nations statehood recognition. He also said the Quartet's initiative is incomplete because it does not call for an Israeli withdrawal to the borders that were in place before Israel took control of Palestinian territories in 1967.

The Quartet, which is made up of the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia, has called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks within a month and reach an agreement by next year.

The Quartet's push came Friday as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asked the U.N. to recognize a state of Palestine, despite U.S. and Israeli opposition.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Abbas called Israel “the occupying power” and said its control of Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is a policy of “colonial settlement occupation.”

In a later speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed that peace talks begin immediately and reaffirmed Israeli's stance that peace cannot come through U.N. resolutions.

Israel has opposed the Palestinian statehood move, saying it does not advance the peace process.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the Palestinians' statehood application on Monday.