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Israeli media: Netanyahu hopes for final status agreement with Abbas

Nov. 20, 2009 11:56 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 20, 2009 9:59 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed to a recently reported two-phase peace deal with Palestinians, Israel's Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

The report follows rumors in the Israeli media that the country's leaders were holding secret talks with Hamas on a two-phase peace deal, which Hamas denied. Thursday reports said Netanyahu was reserving comment on the issue until more information was available.

A Friday article in the Jerusalem Post, however, said Netanyahu is interested in a final-status agreement, citing "courageous [Palestinian] leadership" as the reason behind a desire to resume talks with President Mahmoud Abbas before the leader leaves office. Netanyahu reportedly said a final-status agreement was preferable to an interim one where a Palestinian state would be created on temporary boundaries. The leader reportedly said Abbas should not be "counted out" as a peace partner, and that it was too early to "write off" the Palestinian leader.

Abbas has been clear that he will not resume peace talks with Israel until the country declares a complete halt to settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Last week 900 settlement homes were approved for construction in the Gilo settlement, built in Bethlehem.

According to the report, however, there is "no indication" from Netanyahu's office that there will be a halt to settlement construction, despite what it says were rumors Wednesday that a 10-month moratorium plan was "in the works" and that American mediators were prepared to call the move "enough to restart the negotiations."

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