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Abbas advisor says normalisation should come after resolving Palestinian issue

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on 25 July 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

An advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that Arab states should abide by the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and refuse to normalise relations with Israel until the Palestinian issue has been resolved. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who advises Abbas on religious and Islamic affairs, made his comments to Russia's Sputnik news agency.

Al-Habbash, though, refused to criticise Saudi Arabia's decision to open its airspace to Israeli aircraft after the visit of US President Joe Biden to the kingdom. He explained this position by saying that the PA wishes "to solidify the Arab position and not to shift from a conflict with the [Israeli] occupation to a conflict within the Arab house."

Palestine, he added, wants to preserve its "strong, balanced Arab relationship" because it will serve the collective position.

The advisor said that the Arab position was "good" during the last month's Jeddah summit in which nine Arab countries and Biden participated. "It stressed the importance of the two-state solution and pointed out that the Israeli occupation is the main problem."

Regarding the recent Israeli military offensive against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, Al-Habbash praised the Egyptian ceasefire initiative. "However, the core of the problem still exists, which is the ongoing Israeli occupation, while the situation in Gaza remains sensitive."

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