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During a meeting with Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin on Saturday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he was encouraged by recent polls indicating that the Israeli public prefers negotiations and bilateral moves rather than unilateral moves.
The meeting, which took place at the Allenby crossing to Jordan, was one of a series of talks between the two. During the meeting, Abbas called on the Israeli government to resume talks which could lead to a peace agreement.
Following the violence of the past months, there has been increased criticism of the unilateral steps that led to the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and disengagement from the Gaza Strip last summer. Beilin has repeatedly argued that the government's policy of unilateral moves created the situation leading to violence in both of those areas.
Abbas told Beilin that he was actively engaged in bringing about the release of kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and expressed regret that he remained a captive.
Beilin also proposed that a second Madrid conference be convened, based on the outline of the 1991 conference. Abbas noted that the possibility has already been discussed in his conversations with Arab foreign ministers.
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