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Hamas gunmen in Gaza
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Egyptian FM Aboul Gheit (L) and Abbas in Cairo
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Hamas: Direct talks will lead to more Palestinian suffering
Islamist group slams Arab League support for direct talks between Israel, PA; US 'encouraged' by development

The terrorist Hamas movement issued a statement on Thursday criticizing the Arab nations' support for the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, maintaining that direct talks would only lead to "to more Palestinian suffering as Israel goes on constructing settlements."

 

The United States, on the other hand, lauded the development. "We're encouraged by what we've heard today coming out of Cairo," State Department Philip Crowley spokesman told reporters, adding that US President Barack Obama's administration is hopeful the negotiations resume soon.

 

The comments came after Arab officials meeting in Cairo agreed in principle Thursday to the holding of direct peace negotiations and left it up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to decide when to start talks with Israel.

 

Crowley said Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, acting on behalf of an Arab peace initiative, has sent a letter to Obama outlining ideas about how to move the process forward.

 

"We will, of course, be evaluating the ideas contained in that letter, and we'll be consulting further," Crowley said.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, who has appealed for direct talks, has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations. The Israeli prime minister has accepted the idea of Palestinian statehood with conditions but has ruled out giving up control of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.

 

"In response to the Arab League's decision, the prime minister said he is willing to begin direct, honest talks with the Palestinian Authority already in the next few days," said a statement from his office.

 

AFP, AP contributed to the report

 

 

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