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Fatah: Israeli refusal of 1967 borders nixed Kerry's plan

July 18, 2013 8:52 A.M. (Updated: July 20, 2013 6:33 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's refusal to hold negotiations based on 1967 borders destroyed US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to restart peace talks, a senior Fatah leader said Thursday.

Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of Fatah's revolutionary council, said Israel's rejection of 1967 borders as the basis of negotiations signaled that Israel had no intention of stopping settlement building in Palestine.

Kerry on Thursday extended his sixth visit to the region in as many months, hoping for a breakthrough on resuming direct negotiations. He met with President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan for two rounds of intensive talks on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Maqboul told Ma'an that Palestinian leaders had reached a consensus with Kerry that for talks to resume, Israel must agree to negotiate on 1967 lines, release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners and stop settlement building.

The Palestinian negotiators asked Kerry to present the demands to Israel. Fatah's Central Committee, which met on Thursday to discuss Kerry's plan, said the Palestinian demands must be met in writing and not just verbally, Maqboul said.

The Fatah leader said the Palestinians were expecting to return to talks in the coming days, but that Israel's rejection of 1967 borders and its refusal to stop settlement building nixed the possibility of resuming negotiations.

Maqboul said Israel had agreed to release 250 Palestinian prisoners, and to release Palestinians detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords in stages once talks resume.

PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef said Palestinian factions were forced to refuse to return to talks because Israel would not announce a settlement freeze or recognize the Palestinian state.

Abu Yousef told Ma'an that the Palestinian leadership expected Israel's rightist government to demolish Palestinian hopes of statehood.

The Palestinian people will refuse negotiations without a clear framework, Abu Yousef said, adding that the alternative was to head to the United Nations and request to join international bodies where they could seek legal action against Israel.
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