Abbas weighs next moves after talks with Israel falter

January 25, 2012

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he was weighing his next moves following a series of exploratory talks with Israel that have produced no signs of progress toward resuming formal negotiations.

“After the conclusion of the exploratory meetings, there will be an evaluation phase,” Abbas said after a meeting in Amman, Jordan, with King Abdullah II, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Abbas said that a decision on the next steps would be made at a meeting with Arab League foreign ministers Feb. 4.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives have been meeting this month in Amman as part of a Jordanian effort to advance a plan by international mediators to resume negotiations. The plan, presented in September by the group known as the Quartet — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — set a deadline this week for proposals by both sides on borders and security.

“If we demarcate the borders, we can return to negotiations, but the Israelis do not want demarcation of borders,” WAFA quoted Abbas as saying. He added that Palestinians were prepared to accommodate Israeli security needs in a future peace deal, as long as no Israelis remained on Palestinian soil.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged an immediate return to negotiations without preconditions, rejecting a Palestinian demand to halt settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“We’ve been trying to make sure that the talks between us and the Palestinians will continue. That is our desire,” Netanyahu said before meeting with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who is prodding both sides to continue the exploratory talks.

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