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Abbas office denies secret talks with Israel

Dec. 26, 2013 2:20 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2013 11:18 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A spokesman of the bureau of President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday denied a report in Israeli media claiming that Abbas has maintained a secret channel with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for several years.

Nabil Abu Rdeina was quoted by the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa as saying there had not been any secret talks between Abbas and Israeli officials.

Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday that Netanyahu’s confidant Yitzhak Molcho has been meeting with one of Abbas' associates in London from time to time.

"This back-channel diplomacy includes an exchange of messages and ideas and is aimed at solving problems troubling both sides," the report added.

The secret channel, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, was of more significance during Netanyahu’s previous term while there were no official negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Both Netanyahu and Abbas kept the talks confidential in order to avoid political pressure."

After both sides resumed direct peace talks brokered by US, the daily reported, the importance of the secret channel diminished "likely prompting Netanyahu to inform some of the Israelis and Americans involved in the talks about the back channel."

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