RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that there is a "real possibility" for achieving a peace deal with Israel, but also called on Israel to start meeting some of its short-term peace obligations, such as a settlement freeze.
Abbas spoke at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"I agree with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that there is a real possibility to achieve peace, and I say we are serious to use this opportunity to reach this historical peace," Abbas said.
Abbas said he has received "encouraging signs" from Israel and the U.S., but expects tough going in the negotiations.
He said Israel, the U.S. and the Palestinians agreed that they should try to reach a peace deal before the end of U.S. President George W. Bush's term in a year.
He called on Israel to begin immediately meeting its obligations under the first stage of the "road map" peace plan. The plan requires Israel to freeze settlement construction, remove illegal settlement outposts and ease Palestinian movement.
Abbas said the Palestinians are ready to do their part, including trying to disarm Palestinian militants.