Ali Sawafta
July 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has indicated he will resist U.S. pressure for face-to-face peace talks with Israel for now, saying indirect negotiations must make progress first.
Abbas has said he wants the indirect negotiations to produce results on the issues of the security and borders of a future Palestinian state to be founded alongside Israel on land it occupied in 1967.
In an address to the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Abbas said that unless there was progress in the next week, he would continue the U.S.-mediated, indirect talks until a September deadline set out by the Arab League earlier this year.
The Arab League committee that approved the indirect talks is due to convene in Cairo on July 29.
"If there is a positive development from now to the 28th, we will present it to the League," Abbas said according to the text of the speech delivered on Tuesday and published by the official WAFA news agency on Thursday.
"If that does not happen, we will say to the League that we will continue in the indirect talks as they are until the four-month mandate ends."
The Palestinian leader, his credibility eroded by the failure of past negotiations, faces pressure from the Fatah party which he leads to avoid more direct talks with Israel.
Abbas is wary of more direct talks with the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he believes is not ready to make peace on terms the Palestinians can accept.
But he is facing pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama to agree to direct talks, which Netanyahu says he is willing to begin right away. George Mitchell, Obama's Middle East envoy, asked Abbas again to begin direct talks in a meeting on Saturday, a senior Palestinian official said.
Abbas has resisted waves of U.S. pressure for direct talks, but his administration depends on the political and financial backing of Western states that want to see direct negotiations.
The Palestinians want to found their state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem -- lands occupied by Israel in a 1967 war. Before direct negotiations, Abbas has said he wants Israel to agree "in principle" to the idea that a third party will guard the borders of the new state.
Israel's government says the indirect talks are wasting time. It has criticised Abbas for setting conditions for the resumption of direct talks and says the Palestinians can bring all their issues to the negotiating table.


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