Egyptian officials discuss peace efforts with Abbas

Two top Egyptian officials met Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to discuss reviving stalled peace talks with Israel.

Ramallah: Two top Egyptian officials met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday, to discuss reviving stalled peace talks with Israel.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and
intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met Abbas at his West Bank
headquarters in Ramallah, a news agency correspondent reported.

Senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajub told a news agency the
talks would focus on US-led efforts to revive the stalled
peace process as well as efforts to reconcile the rival
Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas.

"This visit is a message to the Palestinian leadership
confirming the Egyptian leadership`s support, and it`s a
message to the international community and Israel affirming
that the ball is in the Israeli court," he said.

"They will discuss peace efforts and look at
Palestinian, Arab and international mechanisms to get the
Israeli government to adhere to a continuation of the
settlement freeze," Rajub added.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians began
in early September but ground to a halt later that month when
a 10-month partial moratorium on settlement construction

Arab foreign ministers have given Washington until
early November to resolve the impasse before they meet to
discuss alternatives to the negotiations, but there has been
little sign of progress in recent weeks.

The Palestinians view the presence of 500,000 Israelis
in more than 120 settlements scattered across the occupied
West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, as a major
obstacle to the establishment of their promised state.

So far, Israel has refused to renew the moratorium and
insisted the thorny issue of settlements be resolved as part
of a final peace deal.


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