December 28, 2016 / 8:34 PM / 8 months ago

Palestinian president believes peace with Israel is achievable - spokesman

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during Fatah congress in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 30, 2016.Mohamad Torokman

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East speech in Washington on Wednesday by saying he was convinced peace with Israel was achievable, but continuing to demand that Israel halt settlement building before talks restarted.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat read out a statement saying Abbas had "reiterated his full commitment to a just peace as a strategic option". U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.

He said it was Abbas's position that "the minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem, and agrees to implement ... agreements signed, the Palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law".

Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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