catherine ashton 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may agree to direct talks next week if Israel agrees to pre-1967 borders, according to a letter found by Reuters on Thursday.
RELATED:Analysis: A partial freeze might not be enough for AbbasMitchell meetings fail to produce direct talksErekat: It's time for direct decisions
The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton reportedly said in the letter that Abbas would release a statement as early as next week, if both parties agreed to direct talks. Negotiations would begin before the end of the month.
On Friday, sources in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's officer released a statement denying a related report from London-based newspaper Al-Hayat
, that said that Israel would evacuate 90% of the territory and 50,000 settlers in the West Bank. Netanyahu's office said the report is a lie.
"In principle, President Abbas should be in a position to give a definite answer by Sunday or early next week," Ashton wrote. "Abbas is very close" to proceeding to direct talks.
The Quartet "should help President Abbas rally enough support, both at home and abroad, to engage in direct talks," Ashton reportedly added.
Ashton also recalled the Quartet's demand that Israel stop building in
the West Bank, in order to reach a peace treaty within two years. These
conditions would "be issued concurrently with the announcement of the
launch of direct talks."
A Palestinian source told Reuters that the talks would be based on a
Palestinian state "on the basis of pre-1967 borders. This language is
what has been accepted in all the agreements over the past 18 years by
Israeli prime ministers, including Netanyahu in his first term."
Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told Reuters: "The government of Israel
has been calling for the immediate start of direct peace talks between
Israelis and Palestinians for more than a year now."