Middle East

Mahmoud Abbas receives hero's welcome after UN trip

Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
Image caption Mr Abbas was given a rapturous welcome in Ramallah

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received a hero's welcome upon his return to the West Bank from New York where he applied for full state membership of the UN.

He reiterated before a cheering crowd his refusal to talk to Israel without a freeze of Jewish settlements.

In New York, Mr Abbas urged the Security Council to back a state with pre-1967 borders.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010.

The Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"We stressed to everyone that we want to achieve our rights through peaceful ways, through negotiations but not just any negotiations," he told thousands of people gathered at his Ramallah headquarters.

"We will only agree with international law as a basis for negotiations, and a complete halt to settlement activity."

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his call for talks without preconditions.

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Media captionPrime Minister Netanyahu calls for 'negotiations without preconditions'

"You're never going to end negotiations unless you begin it," he told the BBC.

"If we keep negotiating about the negotiations - which is what we've been doing for two and a half years - we're not going to get very far."

Last week, the Quartet of mediators - the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia - called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks within one month and aim for a deal by the end of 2012.

On Friday, Mr Netanyahu told the General Assembly that the core of the conflict was not settlements, but the refusal of the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

The United States has said it will veto the bid for Palestinian membership if it comes to a Security Council vote.

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