Israeli-Palestinian talks end with no progress

President Mahmoud Abbas plans to consult fellow Arabs on his next move, Palestinian officials said.

Ramallah: Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at reviving peace negotiations ended in Jordan on Wednesday without achieving any progress and President Mahmoud Abbas plans to consult fellow Arabs on his next move, Palestinian officials said.

The options being considered by the Palestinians include pushing ahead with United Nations membership and reconciliation with the rival Islamist Hamas group -- moves opposed by Israel.

"The Israelis brought nothing new in these meetings," said one Palestinian official familiar with the talks. "We are now going to assess our options and will consult our brothers in the Arab League on February 04."

The talks came as part of a proposal by the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - which set a three-month deadline last October for the two sides to make proposals on issues of territory and security.

The aim is to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.

The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, is on a regional visit to nudge Israelis and Palestinians to maintain the talks begun this month.

She has been seeking Israeli confidence-building measures for Palestinians, including freeing some prisoners and more freedom in areas of the West Bank held by Israel.

Israelis and Palestinians held five sessions of talks, in which the Israelis offered a document comprising 21 points that Abbas had dismissed as worthless.

Despite strong opposition from the United States and Israel, the Palestinian Authority applied to the UN Security Council last September for UN membership. But a committee to consider the application failed to reach consensus, and the Palestinians have not so far requested a formal vote in the council.

Peace talks foundered in late 2010 with Palestinians demanding that Israel suspend settlement building in the occupied West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem.

Abbas also demanded that Israel agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state on all lands occupied in the 1967 Middle East war before resuming negotiations.

Israel has rejected both demands and said it was ready to resume negotiations immediately with no preconditions.

Bureau Report

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