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Abbas 'will keep pushing for peace talks'

Jan. 4, 2012 5:30 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2012 3:13 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will continue to try and engage Israel in peace talks, his spokesman said Wednesday.

In a statement, Nabil Abu Rudaineh urged the Israeli government to announce a settlement freeze and to accept the two-state solution based on 1967 borders so talks can resume.

The last round of negotiations collapsed in September 2010 over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to extend a freeze on illegal Jewish-only settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

Abu Rudaineh said talks between Palestinian and Israeli envoys in Jordan would continue until the end of January.

The Palestinian Authority official applauded Jordan's King Abdullah for his efforts to restart peace talks.

Palestinian envoys handed Israeli officials a proposal for resolving border and security issues at a meeting in the Jordanian capital on Tuesday attended by international Quartet delegates.

But Palestinian officials insist the meeting did not signal a resumption of peace talks.

Omar al-Ghoul, advisor to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, told Sawa radio on Tuesday that Palestinian negotiators agreed to the meeting in Amman in order to give the Jordanian initiative a chance.

The Amman talks brought together Quartet representatives, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israel's Yitzhak Molcho.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the talks, reported no significant progress but added: "The important thing is the two sides have met face to face."

Judeh added that from here on the sides would keep details of the meetings secret. That could boost the chances of progress by easing immediate pressure from Israeli or Palestinian public opinion not to make concessions.

He said the two sides had until Jan. 26 to make progress and that meetings would take place in Jordan "on a continual basis, without prior announcement of time and date."

Reuters contributed to this report.
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