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Palestinian officials slam talks, Israel complains of 'leaks'

Sept. 8, 2013 11:24 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 8, 2013 10:32 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho complained to the United States over the weekend regarding media 'leaks' by Palestinian officials, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday.

Molcho reportedly protested to US envoy Martin Indyk that statements made to the media by senior Palestinian officials "violated all the agreements" made with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams had reportedly agreed not to report the content or dates of their meetings to the media, Haaretz reported.

However, several senior Palestinian officials have spoken candidly about how negotiations, and above all Israeli proposals, have so far failed.

On Thursday, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an that "Israel has not proposed anything so far, over a month and a half since peace talks have been resumed."

Shaath said that Israel had showed no flexibility regarding the issue of a Jewish state and its control over the Jordan Valley, with some Israeli negotiators even suggesting talks begin from scratch.

"Israel has not proposed anything on the topics which should be discussed, and it's too early to give judgements about the outcome of talks. We will wait and see," he added.

The PLO is adamant about continuing negotiations but will not agree on interim solutions, fearing that they would "buy Israel enough time to fill open areas with settlements."

"The Israeli side does not recognize any of the agreements signed previously including Oslo and the Road Map plan which the Palestinian side has fully implemented," he added.

Israel wants the US to remain as its ally and not as a mediator in talks, which is why Israel opposes the presence of US envoy Martin Indyk during sessions, Shaath said.

He highlighted that the Indyk has only attended one session.

Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said last week that there had been no progress in peace talks, while a senior Palestinian official told the AP that Israel had proposed a state within temporary borders on 60 percent of the West Bank.

An Israeli official told Haaretz that the leaks from the Palestinian side were incorrect.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators on Wednesday held a second round of negotiations in Jerusalem.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators formally resumed direct peace talks earlier last month after a hiatus of nearly three years, thanks to an intense bout of shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

They are expected to last about nine months.
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