RAMALLAH/GAZA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday the Palestinians are committed to the Middle East peace process with Israel through talks, although some say he should not join the second round of negotiations slated for Wednesday.
Abbas said so when meeting in Ramallah German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. According to state-run Wafa News Agency, Abbas said the Palestinians are committed to achieve a just and comprehensive peace through direct talks with Israel.
"The Palestinian side is looking forward to establishing an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas told Westerwelle.
However, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua earlier the Palestinian side is mulling its participation in the upcoming second round of negotiations with Israel after the latter 's approval of building 1,200 new houses in the Jewish settlements.
Israeli Housing Ministry on Sunday unveiled bids to build 1,200 housing units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, just three days after the United States announced that the two sides wound have their second round of talks in Jerusalem on Aug. 14 and then a third in Jericho of the West Bank.
"There are discussions with President Abbas over not joining the second round of talks," Erekat said. "The settlement plans contradict the principle of confidence and goodwill that the resumption of negotiations should have provided."
The building will take place in lands Israel has occupied in 1967 in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and came as the United States succeeded in spurring the two sides to resume their peace talks after a three-year freeze. The negotiations are meant to reach a deal on a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Meanwhile, Rami Hamdallah, premier of the temporary Palestinian government in the West Bank, called on the United States, Germany and the European Union to exert more serious pressures on the Israeli government to stop its settlement building in the Palestinian territories.
"All the Israeli settlement activities must stop because it undermines all the efforts that are exerted by the United States to go through a reliable peace process," Hamdallah said in a press statement issued by his office in Ramallah. "All settlement activities are illegal and only destroy peace."
In parallel with the resumption of the second round of talks, Israel is set to release 26 Palestinian prisoners from its jails. They are among the 104 prisoners Israel has agreed to free during the agreed-upon nine-month period for finalizing the talks between the two sides.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian National Authority said Monday Israel did not abide by the criteria both sides agreed on concerning the release of some prisoners, and the prisoners do not include inmates from Jerusalem and Arab residents of Israel.
Ziad Abu Ein, Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners' affairs, told Xinhua that "This is a discrimination based on geography and demonstrates an Israeli violation of the criteria." But Abu Ein admitted that releasing any prisoner is "a Palestinian gain that helps peace talks to make progress."
Yet, a recent poll showed young Palestinians are not very eager for peace talks with Israel.
The poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based think tank Arab World For Research and Development, showed only 46 percent of the surveyed youths support returning to the negotiating table while 48 percent reject it.
Meanwhile, the poll, carried out on July 27-28, showed that 45 percent of the 1,200-people sample support the two-state solution with a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borderlines while 52 percent oppose it.
The survey was implemented on people between the age of 18 and 30, with a 3 percent margin of error.
GAZA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip said on Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not authorized to negotiate peace with Israel.
Mahmoud Zahar, a high-ranking official in the Islamic movement, told a news conference in Gaza that resumption of the peace talks with Israel "contradicts with the Palestinian national consensus." Full story
RAMALLAH, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians are not very eager for peace talks with Israel, which resumed last month under a U.S. auspices, results of a public opinion poll showed Monday.
According to the poll, conducted by the Ramallah-based think tank Arab World For Research and Development, only 46 percent of the surveyed youths support returning to the negotiating table while 48 percent reject it. Full story
JERUSALEM, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Sunday announced invitation for bids to build 1,200 housing units on its occupied lands in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, only three days before it enters a new round of peace talks with the Palestinians.
According to the Israeli Housing Ministry, about 800 housing units are planned in Jewish settlements beyond the 1967 borderlines in east Jerusalem, and 400 housing units in the West Bank. Full story