Ma'an News Agency
September 27, 2010 - 12:00am

PARIS (Ma’an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas told members of France's Jewish community on Sunday that peace talks would be futile if Israel's settlement activity continued in the West Bank.

Abbas met with 20 well-known members of the Jewish community at Le Meurice Hotel in Paris, reiterating that "if Israel does not continue the freeze on settlement process, the peace process will be a waste of time."

"The majority of the Palestinian and Israeli people want peace, but some leaders are impeding that. Negotiations do not start from zero, but rather need a year or maybe a month to sign an agreement based on international resolutions, namely UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338," he said.

Among those in attendance were philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, journalists Jean-Pierre Elkabbach and Ruth Elkrief, Jewish student union leader Arielle Schwab and President of the Holocaust Memorial Eric de Rothschild.

Abbas is scheduled to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday to discuss peace talks, following the expiration of Israel's partial settlement freeze in the West Bank.

Earlier, Abbas announced that the Arab League would meet on 4 October to discuss further action in the fragile negotiations with Israel, as settlement construction is scheduled for resumption.

Jewish community hails Abbas as courageous

Speaking to Ma'an following the meeting, Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rene Sirat said Abbas was "courageous enough to face all problems," adding that he had heard "great and humane talks."

"This represents the true and responsible Muslim. His words encouraged me and I hope preachers in mosques, as well as rabbis, will know these words to learn that religion was found to make people's life easy and to show mercy."

Meanwhile, Finkielkraut said he was "impressed" that Abbas "does not underestimate Hamas violence" and said he spoke of "his willingness to pass from a culture of violence to a culture of peace."

"He wants us to understand a bit better the Palestinian position and in this respect, it's progress," Elkabbach said, hailing the "courage" of a man "who risks his skin at every moment."


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