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PA officials: No progress on peace deal in latest Abbas-Kerry meeting
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
14/12/2013
Sources cited as saying Kerry now working toward summit between Abbas and Netanyahu, according to Ma'an news agency.
 
The latest meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not achieve a breakthrough, Palestinian officials said over the weekend.

Kerry and Abbas met in Ramallah briefly on Thursday night. Kerry, who drove from Ben-Gurion Airport directly to the meeting with Abbas, was forced to leave Ramallah because of the snowstorm.

The meeting between Abbas and Kerry lasted for less than 30 minutes.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the Palestinians "won't accept any Israeli presence on our land."

Abu Rudaineh was referring to US security ideas, which, according to some reports, envisage an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley for a period of 10 years.

The spokesman said that there would be no peace without the release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

"The success of the talks requires big efforts," Abu Rudaineh said. "President Abbas rejected the idea of delaying the release of the third batch of Palestinian prisoners, slated for the end of December."

A PA official told AFP that Abbas rejected the American security ideas. The official said that Abbas delivered a letter to Kerry informing him of his opposition to the ideas.

In the letter, Abbas also reiterated his complete opposition to demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the official said.

The letter, according to the official, also outlined the Palestinians' opposition to any Israeli military presence on the border with Jordan. The official pointed out that the Palestinians were not opposed to the presence of a third party in the Jordan Valley.

Another PA official said that no progress was achieved during the last Abbas-Kerry meeting. The official stressed that talks between the Palestinians and Americans would continue to try to find an acceptable formula that would allow Kerry to bring forward his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In a related development, the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency quoted "informed sources" as saying that Kerry was now working toward holding a summit between Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
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