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Kerry and Abbas
Photo: AP
Kerry seeks Netanyahu-Abbas meeting
Secretary of state returns to region on Thursday with hopes of restarting peace talks. Palestinian, Israeli officials skeptical efforts will bear fruit

US Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East for a new round of meetings on Thursday in an effort to press Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

 

Palestinian sources estimate that Kerry will try to coordinate a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

 

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One Palestinian source expressed skepticism that Kerry will succeed in getting both leaders to agree to meet with no pre-conditions. He added that the matter is not on the Palestinian agenda.

 

According to the source, discussions in Ramallah on a possible meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas ended without decisions last week.

 

Also last week, Fatah's Central Committee issued a statement rejecting pressure placed on Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

 

It was emphasized that the Palestinians would agree to resume talks if Israel freezes settlement construction, recognizes the two-state solution based on 1967 lines, and releases prisoners incarcerated prior to the Oslo Accords.

 

Meanwhile, sources in Jerusalem last month estimated that talks would eventually be renewed but were not optimistic about their chances of success.

 

An Israeli source in contact with both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators said that Abbas has intimated to foreign elements that he is willing to meet with Netanyahu and restart negotiations.

 

The Palestinian leader however did not name his conditions and it remains unclear whether he is attempting to allay international pressure or is truly committed to renewing the peace process.

 

Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report

 

 

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