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Sunday March 7, 2010 4:17 PM (EST+7)
PLO Executive Committee approves indirect talks with Israel

Read more: Palestinian Liberation Organization, Mahmoud Abbas, proximity talks, peace process

RAMALLAH,  Mar. 7 (JMCC) - The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approval to conduct indirect negotiations with Israel via US interlocutors, on Sunday.

The decision came amid much skepticism on the side of the Palestinians regarding the possibility of achieving anything with the current Israeli leadership.

Mohammad Dahlan, Fatah's Central Committee spokesman, voiced concern over the last several days that such talks would lead nowhere.

The decision does, however, mark an achievement for a US administration beset by failure in their efforts to bring the Israeli and Palestinian sides to the negotiating table, after a 14 month hiatus following the Israeli assault on Gaza at the end of 2008.

A meeting of the foreign ministers of the Arab League on Wednesday gave President Abbas their consent to move ahead with the so-called 'proximity talks,' after reviewing a US proposal.

The approval, which was given a time-limit of 4 months, was described by some as 'political cover' for Abbas to return to negotiations despite Israel's refusal to a complete freeze in settlement building.

US Special Envoy George Mitchell returned to the region Saturday evening for meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leadership.

On Sunday, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Mitchell will be meeting with President Abbas in Ramallah on Monday. The US envoy is expected to create a format for official negotiations between both parties.

Palestinian leaders have been pushing for talks to focus primarily on the issue of borders. Palestinians want demarcation along the 1967 lines as recognized by UN Resolution 242.

Netanyahu, considered a hardliner, has expressed his desire to retain major settlement blocs inside the occupied West Bank, as well as the Jordan Valley, the area along the West Bank's eastern border with Jordan.

US Vice President Joe Biden will also be headed to the region for similar talks as well as an opportunity to speak to the Israeli public regarding US efforts vis-a-vis the peace process.

Read more from The Associated Press






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