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Report: Jordan to host peace talks in February

Dec. 12, 2012 2:21 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 13, 2012 6:19 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian and Israeli officials will meet in Jordan in February in efforts to support the peace process, King Abdullah II of Jordan was quoted as saying by Al-Hayat newspaper on Wednesday.

Officials from both sides will meet under the auspices of the European Union and United States, the Jordanian King said while visiting the United Kingdom on Tuesday, Al-Hayat reported.

"We are ready to start negotiations the day that Israel stops building settlements and abides by international law," Fatah official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an on Wednesday, adding that he did not know of any upcoming meetings with the Israelis.

"We consider the construction of settlements, the insistence by Israel that it be called a Jewish state and the blockade of Gaza as preconditions to negotiations," Shaath added.

The international community has a responsibility to hold Israel accountable for actions which violate its obligations under international law, the official said, adding that the PA is committed to non-violent resistance and peace.

President Abbas told European diplomats in October that he would resume peace talks with Israel after a UN vote on the Palestinian request for non-member status in the world body, which passed with an overwhelming majority on Nov. 29.

The day after the successful UN vote, Israel announced it would build some 3,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem and expedite the planning process in the so-called E-1 settlement zone east of the city, which effectively splits the Palestinian north and south West Bank.

The last peace talks collapsed in 2010 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month partial settlement construction freeze.

In September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the two-state solution was the only sustainable option for peace. But he said the continued growth of Israeli settlements meant that "the door may be closing, for good."
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