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Palestinian leaders back Abbas talks threat

Palestinian leaders back Abbas talks threat
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Senior Palestinian politicians have backed President Mahmoud Abbas in affirming that direct talks with Israel won’t resume unless it halts its settlement building.

US-backed peace talks were plunged into crisis last week by the end of Israel’s 10-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank.

The announcement came after a three-hour meeting of dozens of leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Abbas’ Fatah movement.

“The Palestinian leadership considers the Israeli government responsible for delaying negotiations and for thwarting the efforts of the US administration and the Quartet and the international community,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, PLO member and aide to Abbas.

United States envoy George Mitchell met the head of the Arab League and its intelligence chief in Cairo on Saturday and said the US remained committed to a two-state solution.

A final decision on negotiations is expected at an Arab League summit in Libya next week.

The end of the settlement freeze was seen as an early stumbling block in President Obama’s attempt to reach a Middle East peace deal within a year.