Mitchell meets Abbas in Ramallah

Erekat: No direct talks until progress made on borders, blockade.

abbas mitchell 311 (photo credit: AP)
abbas mitchell 311
(photo credit: AP)
 US Middle East envoy George Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday.
Chief PA Negotiator Saeb Erakat said after the meeting that moving from proximity talks to direct talks as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has suggested is impossible as long as their is no progress made on the issue of borders and Israel continues the blockades and arrests, Israel Radio reported.
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The destruction of homes in Silwan was also discussed in the meeting, as was the expulsion of Hamas officials from east Jerusalem.
Abbas told reporters from the Hebrew media on Tuesday he is willing to enter direct negotiations with the Netanyahu government, as soon as he hears from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu regarding Israel’s position on borders and security issues.
Abbas, in the briefing with Israeli journalists in Ramallah, said that originally he wanted to hear from Netanyahu whether he was willing to accept the understandings agreed upon by his predecessor, Ehud Olmert.
When no answer from Netanyahu was forthcoming regarding the Olmert offer, Abbas said at Tuesday’s briefing, he sent a message through US envoy George Mitchell saying that he would suffice with an answer on only two of the issues: borders and security.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Mitchell in Jerusalem on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of moving to direct talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Barak said the move to direct talks would require a Palestinian willingness to do so without preconditions.
The defense minister is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the coming days. Barak said the two would discuss the move to direct talks as well as cooperation between Israel and the PA on security issues.