On Friday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of pressuring the Palestinians into joining direct talks without meeting the basic condition for moving forward, freezing the expansion of the settlements, Army Radio reported.

"The manner of the talks is not important, just their content. The keys are in Netanyahu's hands. The talks will continue the moment he agrees to freeze building in the settlements," said Erekat.RELATED:
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Senior Palestinian officials also told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper on Friday that the American government had asked Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to participate in direct talks with Israel because of the difficulties Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell had experienced in mediating talks.

"Abbas wants American and Israeli guarantees [before joining direct talks] so that the goal of the conversations will be clear," the officials were cited by Army Radio as telling the newspaper.


The guarantees the officials mentioned included, "the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lands captured in the 1967 war and small territory exchanges to solve the problem of the settlements."

A poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, released Wednesday, showed that most Palestinians do not want a renewal of violence.

Arab World for Research and Development, an institute located in Ramallah polled 1,2000 Palestinians - men and women, refugees and non-refugees - in 16 towns at the end of June.

Two-thirds of those surveyed believe Hamas should renew its ceasefire with Israel after it expires in September, and it should not resume use of missiles against targets in Israel. However, nearly half oppose direct talks with Israel.

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