The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has flown back from the UN in New York to an enthusiastic reception in Ramallah.
After asking for recognition of a Palestinina state, he is now considering a blueprint for talks with Israel within a month, put forward by the Middle East Quartet – the US, UN, EU and Russia.
Abbas told supporters, “we emphasise to everybody that we want to achieve our rights through peaceful means, through negotiations, but not any negotiations, we only accept negotiations based on international legitimacy and after the complete halting of settlements”.
By settlements he means the Israelis continuing to build Jewish homes in the occupied territories, something seen as a stumbling block to progress by the Palestinians.
But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN on Friday that settlements are not the issue. He insisted the core of the conflict is the refusal of Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
It is unlikely that the UN will accept Abbas’ bid for recognition of a Palestinian state anyway, since the US has already said it will use its Security Council veto to block the move.