No new offers from Israel, Abbas says

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israel has made no new proposals in meetings with Palestinians about the possibility of resuming formal peace talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday.

The sides met twice so far in Jordan, and two more meetings are set for Saturday and for Jan. 25, Abbas told members of his Fatah movement.

Abbas has said he will not resume negotiations unless Israel freezes settlement construction and accepts the pre-1967 Mideast War frontier as the baseline for a future border. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in that war, and the Palestinians seek those territories for their state, but are ready for minor land swaps.

Israel has rejected both demands, arguing that everything must be discussed in negotiations. However, the Palestinians say settlement expansion pre-empts the outcome of negotiations and that after two decades of failed discussions, only a clear framework can lead to an agreement.

The Palestinians agreed to the low-level exploratory talks in the Jordanian capital of Amman in order not to be seen as the side torpedoing peace efforts. However, Abbas said nothing has been achieved so far.

“Until now, there is nothing new in the dialogue that is going on in Amman,” Abbas told Fatah leaders, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa. “We are not authorized to speak about what is going on in Amman, but our demands are known, and the Israelis didn’t present something we can accept.”

Abbas reiterated that despite U.S. and Israeli pressure, he has not abandoned his bid to seek U.N. membership for a state of Palestine, denounced by Israel as an attempt to bypass negotiations.

He also suggested that his Palestinian Authority will review its relationship with Israel if the deadlock continues, though he has said he would not dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier this week an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said disagreements emerged in the Amman talks but that his government remains committed to a year-end target for reaching a final peace deal. He said documents submitted by the Palestinians were “recycling” long-standing positions that Israel opposes.

The talks are taking place under the auspices of the international “Quartet” of Mideast peace mediators — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

In October, the Quartet asked the two sides to produce proposals on territory and security within three months. The Palestinians believe the deadline is Jan. 26. The Israeli official said Israel considers that three-month period to have begun last week, when the talks resumed.

( / 12.01.2012)

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