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Palestinian leader chides Hamas, Iran, Israel

From the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Settlements are a sticking point in the stalled talks
  • Hamas and Iran are "slowing the process"

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- The Palestinian Authority president repeated his stance Thursday that Israel's settlement activities are impediments to peace talks, but he also criticized his rival, Hamas, and the Iranian regime.

"Hamas and whoever is standing behind Hamas, meaning Iran, is slowing the process," Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with CNN's Rima Maktabi.

Hamas, the hard-line Palestinian movement that controls Gaza and has clashed at times with Abbas' Fatah movement, opposes a peace agreement with Israel. Fatah holds sway in the West Bank.

"Iran is pressuring Hamas not to be part of any agreement, so that they can use Hamas as a negotiations card in their talks with international community and especially with the United States," said Abbas.

Disagreements over Israel's West Bank settlements have held up the direct talks, renewed this year by the Obama administration.

The Palestinian side wants Israel to renew its freeze on settlement construction, but the Israeli government didn't continue the halt that ended in late September. Because this issue hasn't been resolved, talks have been stalled.

Abbas said the Palestinian side will demand that Jewish settlements built in the West Bank since the 1967 war between Israel and other Arab countries must be dismantled.

"To ask us to continue with negotiations while settlement activities are under way is unacceptable because the time will come and we will have nothing to negotiate for," said Abbas, who regards the settlements "as an illegal activity."

"I know that they have built so many settlements but this is enough, we cannot take that anymore. We cannot continue with the negotiations because the way they are building those settlements now is very ferocious."

Abbas said that there are options the Palestinians could pursue if the peace talks don't go forward.

Those would include asking the United States to adopt a framework for peace and present it to both parties or go to the U.N. Security Council or General Assembly. He said the United States has the obligation to help the Palestinians approach the United Nations.