November 30, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned Monday that Israel's settlement enterprise has become "a time bomb" that could destroy peace hopes at any moment. Abbas made the statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People which is marked each year since 1977 on November 29.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to mark an international day for Palestinians that there was little sign of optimism by Palestinians or Israelis that a peace accord could be achieved soon.

US-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked for more than two months since Israel ended a moratorium on settlements in Palestinian territories.

In a special message read at the UN headquarters, Abbas said "the deterioration in the peace process must be addressed."

"This requires bringing a decisive and final end to the vicious Israeli settlement campaign," he added.
The settlement "constitutes a time bomb that could destroy everything we have accomplished on the road to peace at any moment."

Israel's construction in east Jerusalem and the occupied territories was the focus of an annual debate at the UN General Assembly in which Arab nations and the Non-Aligned Movement condemn Israel.

Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks website released another cable sent from the US Embassy in Israel to the State Department on Monday suggesting that senior officials in Israel's security establishment including Amos Gilad and Benny Ganz warned Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow of Abbas's political weakness.

According to the cable, the officials estimated that Abbas would not last politically past 2011.

'It takes two to tango'
Israel's UN envoy Meron Reuben criticized what he called the "destructive rhetoric" that he said marked the debate each year.

"It takes two to tango, Israel cannot reach this peace on its own," Reuben told the assembly, reaffirming Israel's calls for negotiations without conditions.

"We can only achieve peace with the Palestinians through compromise and direct and bilateral negotiations," he said. "We can only move forward through bilateral negotiations that address the concerns of both sides."

The United States has offered Israel a major package of incentives to start a new suspension. Israel has not yet given a formal response.

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to set a target date of an accord within a year when they started the latest talks in early September. In his message, the UN leader said there was "little optimism" on either side that peace could be achieved soon.

Ban again urged Israel to halt the settlement building which he called "a serious blow to the credibility of the political process."

The Palestinian side, he added, "must continue to roll out the institutions of statehood, combat terrorist attacks and curb incitement."

The UN General Assembly is to vote Tuesday on the Middle East resolutions.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017