Tags: Palestinians | peace | talks | Israel

Palestinians Cede to U.S. Pressure for Indirect Talks With Israel

Sunday, 07 Feb 2010 09:07 PM

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has agreed in principle to indirect talks with Israel under US mediation but has requested a number of guarantees, a Palestinian official said Monday.

The latest US proposal for renewing peace talks suspended more than a year ago would have the two sides hold three months of indirect negotiations and have Israel make several goodwill gestures to the Palestinians.

The Palestinians would continue to require a complete freeze of Israeli settlements before any direct negotiations but not as a precondition to indirect talks.

"These contacts will be aimed at creating a better climate and reaching an understanding on the borders of the Palestinian state, and they will begin on February 20," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"They will last three months, with the Americans negotiating directly with the two sides after determining a timetable and agreed-upon mechanisms for implementation."

The official said US Middle East envoy George Mitchell would shuttle between the two sides, either travelling between Jerusalem and the West Bank political capital of Ramallah or between separate rooms at a hotel or other location.

Under the proposal, Israel would implement a five-point initiative proposed by Mitchell that would include the freeing of Palestinian prisoners and a halt to Israeli incursions in Palestinian cities, the official said.

Israel would also transfer additional areas of the West Bank to Palestinian control, reopen Palestinian political offices in east Jerusalem, and allow building materials and other goods into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Abbas has also demanded that Washington present a document with its position regarding final status issues, including the fate of Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem and final borders, the official said.

"President Abbas wants to know the American position, announced or written, on these guidelines and what the administration will do if Netanyahu does not agree to them," the official said.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed that Mitchell had put forth new suggestions but said Abbas had not yet responded to them.

"Abbas has not yet given an answer on Mitchell's suggestions but put forth questions for the US administration, which should reply within a week," he told AFP.

"President Abbas asked Mitchell to clarify what the Americans' guidelines would be. Will they be to end the occupation that began in 1967 and establish a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem?" he said.

The two sides have been at loggerheads for months as Washington has called for the renewal of negotiations suspended during the Gaza war in December 2008 and January 2009.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table without a complete freeze of Jewish settlement growth in the occupied territories, including annexed east Jerusalem, which they claim as their capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November imposed a 10-month moratorium on building starts but left out public buildings, projects already under way and east Jerusalem. The Palestinians rejected it as insufficient.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.



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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has agreed in principle to indirect talks with Israel under US mediation but has requested a number of guarantees, a Palestinian official said Monday.
Palestinians,peace,talks,Israel
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2010-07-07
 
 

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