Netanyahu expects direct talks to begin in two weeks

August 1st, 2010 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Jerusalem, Aug 1 (DPA) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he expects direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to begin in two weeks.
The premier did not tell ministers from his Likud Party on what he was based his expectation, but later told the full cabinet that talks he held in recent weeks had created a “convenient climate” for the start of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel and the Palestinians began indirect peace talks in spring, with US envoy George Mitchell mediating. Netanyahu has been pushing for the negotiations to become direct, a demand now echoed by US President Barack Obama.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that no direct talks can take place until he receives guarantees that Israel will freeze all settlement activities, and on the borders of the future Palestinian state.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said Palestinians have presented US mediator Mitchell with a detailed peace plan to pass on to Israel.

He told Israel Army Radio Sunday that the plan, which he described as the Palestinians’ “best offer ever”, covered such thorny key issues as Jerusalem, borders and the Palestinian refugee issue.

He would not go into more detail, but said the plan was presented to Mitchell over two moths ago “and we still haven’t received any answers”.

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