Abbas thanks Venezuela for supporting Palestinians



CARACAS- Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas thanked Venezuela Friday for supporting the creation of a future Palestinian state as he rounded out a Latin American tour.
The Palestinian leader also issued a warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who announced 10-month restrictions on building in West Bank settlements on Wednesday.



Abbas thanks Venezuela for supporting Palestinians
"Netanyahu stopped the negotiations. We cannot restart them without a commitment from both sides to respect the obligations of the roadmap," a US-backed 2003 Middle East peace plan that calls for a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, Abbas said.
The roadmap, which remains the basis for negotiations between the two sides, demands that the Jewish state freeze all settlement construction.
Peace talks have been on hold for nearly a year and remain stalled over the thorny settlement issue.
"The occupation will continue. Netanyahu will not agree to restart talks where they were left off. He had to decide between peace and the occupation, and regrettably he chose occupation," Abbas said in an address to the Venezuelan National Assembly.
Netanyahu's move was praised by the United States as a step toward relaunching the peace process, but the Palestinians said it fell far short of their demand for a complete settlement freeze ahead of any new negotiations.
Abbas, who found a largely receptive audience during his earlier stops in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay, was due to meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez later Friday.
The firebrand leftist leader has pronounced himself a passionate supporter of the Palestinians and severed diplomatic ties with Israel after the Jewish state launched a devastating military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas, who earlier laid a wreath at the tomb of Venezuelan hero Simon Bolivar, thanked Venezuelan lawmakers for their support as they approved an agreement boosting ties between the two peoples.
"I know that Venezuela, its government and its people, will continue their support for the cause of our people to create an independent Palestinian state," Abbas said.
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Image: AFP/File/Miguel Gutierrez Gutierrez.

Saturday, November 28th 2009
AFP
           


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