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Fatah: Israel has not responded to Abbas letter

April 29, 2012 9:35 A.M. (Updated: April 30, 2012 9:49 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel has not officially responded to a letter from President Abbas earlier this month, which outlined the Palestinian position in peace talks, a Fatah official said Saturday.

Central Committee member Jamal Muheisin told Ma'an that the only response received from Israel so far has been to grant legal status to three illegal settlement outposts.

An Israeli committee decided to "legalize" the West Bank outposts of Rechalim, Bruchin and Sansana last Monday, a week after receiving Abbas' letter which explicitly called on Israel to halt settlement activity.

The Palestinian side is still waiting for Israel to set a date to deliver their official response, Muheisin said.

The President's letter demanded a halt to Israeli settlement construction on West Bank land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and deplored Israel's lack of commitment to the peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took the letter from PLO official Saeb Erekat, promised a written reply in two weeks.

Israel's response to the letter will determine the Palestinian Authority's next steps, which could include applying to the United Nations General Assembly for membership, Muheisin said.

The Fatah official added that any reshuffle in the cabinet would only take place once President Abbas returns from an African tour, adding that six new ministers may join the cabinet but that Abbas "has the final word" on changes.

All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.
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