Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gives a press conference in Tel Aviv, on March 5, 2014
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gives a press conference in Tel Aviv, on March 5, 2014 © Jack Guez - AFP/File
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gives a press conference in Tel Aviv, on March 5, 2014
AFP
Last updated: March 16, 2014

Israel's Yaalon says Abbas is "no partner" for peace deal

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Saturday Mahmud Abbas was "not a partner for a final peace deal" as the Palestinian leader prepared to meet US President Barack Obama.

Abbas "is a partner for receiving, not giving," Yaalon told Israel's Channel 2 television in an interview.

"He is not a partner for a final agreement that would include the recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and that would end the conflict and all claims."

Abbas is due to meet Obama in Washington on Monday to discuss the stalled direct peace talks brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have been locked in talks launched last July after a three-year hiatus, but the negotiations have faltered.

"He (Abbas) says it very clearly but no one seems to listen... I'm sorry to come to this conclusion, but this (deal) will not happen in my time," said Yaalon who is considered to be one of the most rightwing ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government.

The Abbas-Obama talks are likely to focus on a US-proposed framework to guide final status negotiations, before the impending deadline for the current round of talks on April 29.

Last week Netanyahu meet Obama, who urged him to take "tough decisions" and warned that Israel would be exposed to further international isolation should the talks fail.

Yaalon also criticised Kerry in veiled terms on the issue of the release of Palestinian prisoners that Israel is engaged to do under the current talks.

"We are committed to the release of prisoners held since before the Oslo Accords, not the release of Israeli Arab prisoners," he said.

He was referring to the fourth and final phased release of long-serving prisoners scheduled for March 29 -- a commitment Israeli ministers have hinted may not be met.

"What happened happened in Kerry's mediation," Yaalon said.

"I don't want to go into details, it is between him and us. He knows we are not committed to the release of Israeli Arabs," he said.

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