MARCH 21 2012 12:29h

Abbas blames Israel for peace standstill


RAMALLAH, West Bank, March 21 (UPI) -- Israeli settlement policy and refusal to freeze construction are responsible for an impasse in Mideast peace talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.

"Israeli intransigence and refusal to accept the principle of a two-state solution and freeze settlement activities have foiled international efforts to salvage the peace process," The Jerusalem Post quoted the Palestinian leader as telling Western diplomats in Ramallah Tuesday.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied media reports suggesting the United States was pressuring Abbas to resume peace talks with Israel. His comments came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Abbas about resuming the process and reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace, the English language daily said.

An unnamed aide to the Palestinian president told the newspaper Abbas told Obama he would be willing to resume talks if Israel meets all of the Palestinian demands, which include a freeze on all construction in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem and recognition of the pre-1967 borders, the paper said.