Abbas warns of Israeli escalation on Gaza 23Dec10 December 24, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  23 December 2010

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas told EU officials in Ramallah on Wednesday afternoon that he was concerned about a new Israeli escalation targeting the people of Gaza, the official government news agency WAFA reported.

The warning came as Israel submitted a complaint to the UN over what it said was an escalation in projectile fire launched by resistance factions in Gaza, followed by an announcement from the Hamas government that it intended to complain to the UN over recent Israeli rhetoric that appeared to herald a new offensive.

Speaking with EU representative to the Palestinian Authority Christian Berger, Abbas said “any new Israeli offense on Gaza will place the peace process under real risk, it will cause a collapse of the international efforts trying to rescue the process.”

The last round set of peace talks between Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ended almost two years ago, when Israel launched its deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 and injuring more than 5,000. In September, US mediators managed to get Abbas to the negotiations table with right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu, but talks fell apart when the leader refused to prolong a partial freeze on settlement construction.

Abbas updated Berger on the status of talks, which the PLO refused to rejoin until Israel came up with a “substantial” offer and made clear its vision of a Palestinian state including its borders. Only then, Abbas said, would Palestinian negotiators continue a mediated discussion with Israel via the United States.

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