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Report: Palestinian, Israeli negotiators met despite PA resignations

Dec. 3, 2013 10:20 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 4, 2013 3:46 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian and Israeli negotiators met last week despite an alleged negotiations crisis, according to a report in Hebrew published on Walla news site Monday.

The report claimed that several meetings were held between both sides in the period since the Palestinian negotiation team announced its resignation.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat met last week with his Israeli counterpart alone, the report added, highlighting that Muhammad Ishtayya did not attend the meeting.

The Hebrew language website quoted Western diplomats as saying that the Palestinians would ask US Secretary of State John Kerry when he arrives in the region next week to seek the international community's intervention in the negotiations.

Kerry, according to American sources, will try his best to make sure negotiations make progress before a third group of veteran Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel since before the Oslo Accord are released by mid-January, a result of past agreements.

He will exert efforts during his visit next week to calm down both sides and try to get negotiations back on track, the sources said.

The Palestinian negotiating team resigned in protest against continued Israeli settlement construction in mid-November, dealing a major blow to negotiations between Israel and the PLO that had already been stalled.

Negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told AFP at the time that they resigned in response to "increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results," following Netanyahu's announcement that Israel would build 20,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

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