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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Terrorism Will Be Cut, Palestinian Leader Says

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas told legislators Tuesday that there was no military solution to the Palestinians' conflict with Israel and denounced terrorism, pledging to control militant groups and confiscate illegal weapons.

But in his first policy speech since being tapped for his post, Abbas also staked out tough political positions -- rejecting Israel's requests for changes in the expected "road map" to peace, and saying Israel would eventually have to withdraw from all occupied territory.

"Israel is attempting to alter the road map as we know it by entering into complicated negotiations and imposing its own interpretation," Abbas told legislators gathered in Ramallah to vote on his proposed Cabinet. "We will not negotiate the road map. The road map must be implemented."

The plan, whose formal unveiling is expected in coming days, calls for an immediate end to violence and a complete freeze on Jewish settlements. In a second stage it foresees the creation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders. Tough issues like final borders, the sharing of Jerusalem and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants are left for the last stage.

The Palestinians have accepted the U.S.-backed road map, whose details have been known for several months, while Israel has asked for several key changes.

U.S. President George W. Bush has pledged to unveil the road map immediately after the confirmation of Abbas, whose new government is seen by the United States -- and by some in Israel -- as opening the door to a possible end to 31 months of violence.

"There is no military solution to the conflict," Abbas told the lawmakers. Referring to the road map's call for a crackdown on militant groups, Abbas said that "the unauthorized possession of weapons ... is a major concern that will be relentlessly addressed." He also said his government must have sole authority.

"We denounce terrorism by any party and in all its forms ... because we are convinced that such methods do not lend support to a just cause like ours, but rather destroy it."

Addressing Israelis, he said: "We want a lasting peace with you, achieved through negotiations." However, he repeated the Palestinians' long-standing positions demanding a withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, a removal of the Jewish settlements in the area, a capital in Jerusalem and the return of refugees.

In an apparent reference to Tuesday's Israeli marking of the Holocaust, Abbas said: "We do not ignore the suffering of the Jews throughout history, and in exchange we hope that the Jews will not turn their backs on the sufferings of the Palestinians."