(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday talks with Israel are still on the table, despite moves against the Jewish state at the UN and numerous failed rounds of negotiations.
Abbas was addressing the Palestinian leadership at the opening of a two-day conference in the West Bank to discuss the future of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose existence is under threat after Israel cut off a key source of funds.
"We ask all countries of the world to recognise the state of Palestine," he said.
"But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we're running away from negotiations."
There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Abbas's speech.
US-backed talks between the Palestinians and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government collapsed in April after nine months of fruitless meetings amid bitter recriminations and mutual blame.
Relations have since further deteriorated, after a devastating war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza during the summer, and with Palestinian moves against the Israelis in the international arena.
The Palestinians submitted a UN Security Council resolution in December - which was voted down - calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank within two years, and in January joined the International Criminal Court, where they plan to press for war crimes against Israel.
Israel has in response frozen $127 million per month in tax revenues due the PA, depriving it of most of its funds and rendering it unable to pay tens of thousands of employees.
"This is the third month in a row that we're taking loans from the banks," Abbas said, adding that a "political solution" was the best way to end the deadlock.
- Elections, Israeli and Palestinian -
Abbas said the Palestinians were ready to deal and talk with "whoever" wins an Israeli general election on March 17.
"We are not interfering, or saying who we'd like to see or who we'd not like to see" win the vote, he said.
"Whoever that man is, or whatever his politics... the (Israeli) people will elect who they want, and we will deal with him."
Netanyahu, whose rightwing coalition includes members who oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, is likely to return for a fourth term in office, making a return to peace talks unlikely.
In Jerusalem, thousands of Israeli women gathered outside parliament to call for peace with the Palestinians, at a rally organised by Women Wage Peace, a group formed after the Gaza war.
"Two weeks ahead of the elections, we've heard no word on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No candidates have given their verdict on the issue," Irit Keinan said in a speech.
"We've suffered through enough wars," she said.
"Among us are young women, mothers and grandmothers, people who will raise our children - the next generation of soldiers who will be forced to go to war. It's enough!"
Back in Ramallah, referring to the Palestinians' own elections, Abbas urged rivals Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, to coordinate with the PA in making sure a long-overdue Palestinian vote goes ahead.
"As soon as Hamas sends me written official approval, I will immediately issue a decree calling for elections," he said.
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