Israel, Palestinians at loggerheads over direct talks

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of evading direct peace talks as Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu on Monday accused the Palestinians of evading direct
peace talks as Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas stuck to his
demand for border guarantees.

The latest exchange indicated a lingering gap between the
two sides despite months of US shuttle diplomacy and repeated
calls from President Barack Obama and other leaders for the
resumption of direct talks halted in December 2008.

"We have an understanding with the Americans that we need
to move now, without any delay, to direct negotiations, but in
response, we have a clear Palestinian attempt to avoid this
process," Netanyahu said.

"If anyone ever doubted the Palestinians` reluctance, it
is now completely clear," he told the parliamentary committee
on foreign affairs and defence, adding that Israel was ready
to kick off direct talks "immediately."

"They are trying to stall and to sneak away from direct
negotiations and to cause the Arab League to shackle the
talks," Netanyahu added.

His remarks came just days ahead of an Arab League
meeting in Cairo at which Abbas was to discuss the indirect
talks with Israel, which began in May, and to consider
upgrading to direct negotiations.

Abbas, who has repeatedly demanded that Israel first
halt settlement construction and agree to its 1967 borders as
the basis of the negotiations, denied hindering the talks.

"We are ready to hold direct peace negotiations with
Israel," Abbas told reporters in Amman, adding however that
they "should be held in line with a clear reference -- the
1967 borders."

PTI

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