An official denial has been issued quashing “malicious rumours” that Egypt is putting pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations with the Israelis. In a written statement, the Secretariat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee said that the President’s position enjoys the full support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and all the other Arab countries, as well as some in Europe. “These malicious rumours are trying to undermine the position of the Egyptian leadership and its support for the Palestinian President’s policy,” said the statement.
The PLO stressed Palestinian and Egyptian agreement on the necessity for a complete settlement freeze in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and a frame of reference for negotiations so as to end the Israeli occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state, within the borders of June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. In what is seen as an attempt to repair some of the damage done by news of Egypt’s wall of steel on the border with Gaza, the statement also pointed out that the PLO coordinates fully with Egypt and the Arab countries regarding the Palestinian position. Egypt, it added, has led the way towards obtaining US and international guarantees that the borders of any Palestinian state will be those of 4 June 1967, it will have East Jerusalem as its capital and there will be a just solution for the Palestinian refugees.
Earlier reports had spoken of Egyptian pressure on Abbas to agree to a resumption of negotiations with the Israelis on an agenda proposed by Washington, which requires Abbas to remove his precondition that there must a be a total settlement freeze before a return to the negotiating table. It was said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Abbas that Egypt would back off completely on the Palestinian issue if he did not comply with Egyptian demands and cooperate on this point. Senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath apparently added, “Abbas is under pressure to resume the peace negotiations with Israel, without a complete settlement freeze.”
The Palestinian Authority stopped political negotiations with Israel when Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government assumed office, insisting that a comprehensive settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem was necessary, along with adherence to the international frame of reference for negotiations and the acceptance by Israel of a two-state solution.