Reading the article "Gov't opposes 'borders first' approach," by Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem Post, one comes across the following two contradictory quotes in adjacent paragraphs:
- "In principle, we have no objections to returning to the negotiating table or holding any kind of meetings. Nor are we setting preconditions."
- "We have said - and we continue to say - that we are ready to resume the talks once settlement construction is halted and international terms of reference are recognized as the basis for the negotiations."
Under normal standards, insisting on a total settlement halt and a basis for negotiations would be considered preconditions.
One also wonders what Abbas means by "international terms of reference" being recognized.
Does he mean the seminal United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, have blatantly violated?
Does he mean the "road map," which would preclude negotiations until a number of steps are taken by the Palestinian Authority, including the dismantling of the terror infrastructure it built up in both Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza as well as an end to incitement, which has actually increased in Gaza and continues virtually unabated in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas of Judea and Samaria?
Or does he mean a variety of resolutions passed over the years by the United Nations General Assembly, generally in contradiction of Resolutions 242 and 338 and in violation of its own charter?
It would seem that even the determination of "international terms of reference" require extensive negotiations, creating a typical vicious cycle.
Also interesting: Abbas told reporters that he and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had reached understandings on the required terms for resuming peace talks, and that those terms included the need for discussion of Jerusalem and a total freeze on Israeli construction (but apparently not the rampant Arab construction) in the disputed territories.
Since it is with Israel, not Egypt, that Abbas needs to negotiate, it's pointless for Abbas to negotiate with Egypt over preconditions for negotiating with Israel.