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Abbas to meet Kerry in Amman

July 16, 2013 5:15 P.M. (Updated: July 17, 2013 11:29 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will meet US secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday in Amman, a Palestinian official close to negotiations said.

The official, who requested anonymity, said the meeting would be held at 8 p.m. and that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat would also attend.

The Palestinians expect Kerry to propose cosmetic steps without providing final answers on a return to negotiations, the official said.

Earlier, Erekat and PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki had said the next stage in the negotiations process was unpredictable.

Senior PLO official Mohammad Shtayyeh said Tuesday that the Palestinians appreciated Kerry's efforts, but that Israeli policies were impeding them.

Continuous settlement building and the Israeli government's refusal to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders demonstrate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not intend to reach a two-state solution, Shtayyeh told reporters after a meeting with Carter Center director

"We have told Kerry that we will return to the negotiating table if Israel proves its seriousness by agreeing to stop building in settlements and by releasing prisoners," Shtayyeh said.

"We are waiting for the results of Kerry's efforts and if they fail, our next destination will be the organizations of the United Nations," he added.

Kerry spent four days in June locked in intensive shuttle diplomacy between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in a high-profile bid to draw the two sides back into direct negotiations after a gap of nearly three years.

Abbas is pushing Israel to freeze all settlement building activity and to publicly agree to make the lines that existed before the 1967 Middle East war the basis for peace negotiations.

Netanyahu has called for talks without "preconditions", a reference to Palestinian demands which he rejects, instead considering "good will gestures" such as the release of prisoners or a partial freeze on settlements.

Abbas said after Kerry's last visit that the secretary of state had made "useful and constructive proposals", adding he was "optimistic" about the outcome.

But he also said that Kerry's proposals "need further clarification and explanation before we can return to negotiations".
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