Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Oct 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Abbas turns down Colombian offer to mediate with Israel

Colombia Palestine

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) thanked Colombia for its offer to mediate peace with Israel, but demanded “sufficient guarantees” before negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis can begin, said PNA foreign minister Ryad al-Maliki in Bogota Monday.

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin had proposed mediation to get both the PNA and the Israeli government to start peace talks in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Colombia is willing to mediate in this conflict and if we can help we will do so with pleasure,” Holguin told press after the meeting.

According to Abbas, the Palestinians are “in favor of peaceful negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel,” but according to Al-Maliki “we do not want to negotiate just to be negotiating. We have been negotiating for 20 years within an empty process that has no way out.”

If Israel ends occupying territory outside the country’s border as set in 1967 and stops resisting the creation of a Palestinian state, “we will immediately go to negotiations,” said Al-Maliki.

“We are at any moment willing to return to the negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind,” Abbas had said earlier.

Abbas is scheduled to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday to discuss the Palestinians’ bid for the recognition of statehood by the United Nations, which Colombia — a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council — has so far rejected.

The Middle East Quartet — the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union — has called for a resumption of negotiations.

Israel on Sunday accepted with reservations a plan proposed by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, while the Palestinians have said there will be no negotiations until Israel freezes settlement — a demand they say is written into the Quartet proposal.