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Palestinian President Sees No New Intifada

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at a Fatah party congress in August
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Palestinians will not launch a new uprising against Israel despite their frustration at the deadlock in U.S.-sponsored peace efforts, President Mahmud Abbas has said.

Israel has rejected U.S. calls to freeze Jewish settlements on occupied West Bank land where Palestinians seek statehood, and Abbas -- eyeing the internal challenge from his Islamist Hamas rivals -- has refused to yield on this core demand and revive negotiations.

But Abbas made clear that Palestinians do not want to see a repeat of their 2000-2005 intifada, or revolt, which was spearheaded by gunmen and suicide bombers and met a crushing Israeli military response.

"God forbid that we should come to a new intifada. The Palestinian people are not thinking about launching a new intifada," he told reporters during a visit to Argentina.

"The Palestinian people are only thinking about the road toward peace and negotiations and no other path. We will not go back to an intifada because we have suffered too much."

Hamas beat Abbas' more secular Fatah faction in a 2006 election and, a year later, seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and Israel fought a war there in December and January that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. Since then, Hamas has signaled willingness to curb cross-border Palestinian attacks.

Abbas, for his part, holds sway in the occupied West Bank, his administration largely propped up by Israel.

Abbas' visit comes a week after Israeli President Shimon Peres met with President Cristina Fernandez in Buenos Aires and asked her to mediate in the Middle East peace process.

Fernandez and Abbas criticized Israel's announcement last week of plans to build 900 new homes in the settlements. Argentina's president also asked the United States to step up its involvement in the peace process.

"To build peace, besides finding common ground and respect for international law, we need to have the will for peace," Fernandez said. "I think this is a key element and that the United States sincerely can do more than what it's doing now regarding this."

During a visit to Brazil last week, Abbas and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also condemned the Israeli settlements and demanded the creation of an independent Palestinian state.