Barak Ravid
October 27, 2009 - 12:00am

The chief Palestinian negotiator lashed out at Israel's stance toward peace talks on Tuesday, after a report that his president, Mahmoud Abbas, had threatened to step down due to the lack of progress in the peace process.

"You're presenting us as 'untrustworthy bastards,' while the fact of the matter is that you're the ones foot-dragging and refusing to end the occupation," Saeb Erekat told Army Radio.

Channel 10 reported on Monday evening that Abbas has told the White House that he is considering stepping down. In the Army Radio interview on Tuesday, Erekat refused to confirm or deny the report, but said Israel's position on West Bank settlement building and other key issues was "intolerable."

"Netanyahu says he is ready to return to negotiations, but this the same old tune," Erekat added. "Every [Israeli] government that comes along demands that we come to the discussions without preconditions, after we have already succeeded in reaching agreements with previous governments."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Obama administration efforts should center on bolstering Abbas' position. Her comments were in a report to President Barack Obama last week on attempts to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 News reported last night that Abbas has told the White House that he is considering stepping down because of the lack of progress in the peace process.

A senior political source who was privy to the State Department report noted that in it Clinton had stressed the significant setback to Abbas in Palestinian public opinion because of the initial decision not to press ahead with bringing the Goldstone report on the Gaza Strip to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

Days before the report was delivered to Obama, Erekat went to Washington, where he warned of a potential nightmare scenario as a result of the difficult domestic situation faced by Abbas and the overall desperation in the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Authority government over the stalled peace process.

Clinton recommended a variety of measures to bolster Abbas, including a request to Israel that it carry out a series of goodwill actions and show greater flexibility in order to facilitate the resumption of talks. The secretary of state said in the report that strengthening Abbas is critical, as elections in the PA are likely in the near future.

Clinton also reported that she intends to meet on November 2 in Morocco with a group of Arab foreign ministers and will ask them to step up their political and economic support for Abbas vis-a-vis Hamas.


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