Palestinian negotiators have for the first time asked European countries to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — even without a peace deal with Israel.

The move came as part of a growing Palestinian campaign to pursue statehood outside of peace talks with Israel, which have been deadlocked since September.

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Palestinian officials said Thursday that they had asked the consuls general of France, Britain, Sweden and Denmark as well as the European Union envoy to the peace process to recognize the 1967 borders between Israel and "Palestine."

The EU has said it will recognize a Palestinian state "when appropriate," but that negotiations are the only way to peace.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the seven member ministerial forum known as the 'Septet' were set to meet Thursday morning to discuss the return to indirect proximity peace talks between Israel and the PA proposed by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

According to an AFP report published Wednesday, Mitchell said that he intended to pursue "substantive" negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.


"In the days ahead our discussions with both sides will be substantive, two way conversations with an eye towards making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement," Mitchell was quoted as saying.

The US envoy was speaking in Cairo following talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He said that US aims to "pursue a framework agreement that would establish the fundamental compromises on all permanent status issues... (to) pave the way for a final peace treaty."

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