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Sources: Egypt wants to host peace talks

Oct. 31, 2010 8:58 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 2, 2010 1:49 P.M.)
LONDON (Ma’an) – Egypt is contacting world and regional sides to organize an international peace conference, the London-based Al-Hayat daily reported Saturday quoting Egyptian sources.

“Egypt considers it unbelievable that the status quo remains unchanged in light of Israel’s refusal to take a positive step regarding settlements, while the Palestinian president insists that they stop settlements before he resumes face-to-face talks,” a source said.

Egyptian officials were in Ramallah days earlier trying to convince President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a partial freeze on construction in settlements, excluding settlements that Israel intends to annex in a peace agreement. The proposal was a US initiative aimed at restarting direct talks between the PLO and Israel by mid-November, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported.

Peace talks, relaunched in Washington on 2 September, reached a deadlock within weeks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to extend temporary restrictions on settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. Despite pleas from the international community, full-scale settlement construction resumed across the West Bank as the freeze expired on 26 September.

'No new war on Gaza'

Al-Hayat's source ruled out the possibility that Israel would wage war on Gaza as recent reports suggest.

“Israel will remain committed to the ceasefire as long as rockets are not fired from the Gaza Strip at its territories and as long as Hamas does not carry out military activities,” the source was quoted as saying.

Several high-ranking Israeli officers have made statements recently warning of a repeat of Israel's last war on the enclave, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands injured. One senior officer, quoted in the Israeli daily Haaretz, said if another soldier was captured Israel's response would be no less severe.

In the Gaza Strip, dismissed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said threats to launch a new offensive were psychological warfare, but he does not think a new attack is approaching.

His comments echoed remarks by Hamas leader Ismail Radwan, who said statements by army officials were propaganda to be consumed by local media. But the resistance is ready to respond, he said.

Two projectiles landed in southern Israel on Saturday, an army spokesman said. They landed in Kerem Shalom in the northwestern Negev, and no damage or injuries were reported, he said.
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