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(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinians won’t open direct negotiations with Israel unless progress is first made on the issues of borders and security, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told US special Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Thursday.
Abbas said there would be no progress in the peace process unless Israel recognized the June 4, 1967, lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
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The PA president also said that the resumption of direct negotiations was contingent on Israel halting its “arbitrary measures” against the Palestinians, including house demolitions, arrests, closures and settlement construction.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed hope after the meeting between Abbas and Mitchell in Ramallah that the international community would understand the Palestinian stance.
“We hope that every effort would be made to achieve agreement on the borders and security before the end of the [US-mediated] proximity talks,” Erekat said. “This would pave the way for solving final-status issues and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”
Erekat said that during the talks with Mitchell, Abbas raised Israel’s recent measures in Jerusalem, such as the decision to demolish 22 houses in Silwan, deport four Hamas politicians from the city and build new housing units in Sheikh Jarrah’s Shepherd Hotel.
“Israel’s practices threaten to destroy efforts to advance the peace process,” Abbas reportedly warned the US emissary.
Abbas also urged the US administration to work toward lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, Erekat said.
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