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Palestinian officials say Kerry's plans for peace talks aren't enough

July 18, 2013 at 2:29 PM   |   Comments

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 18 (UPI) -- Palestinian political leaders said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's plan for renewed peace talks between Palestine and Israel were insufficient.

Following a meeting between with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, several officials said they believed Kerry's plan was not good enough because it did not require a freeze of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, or that negotiations be based on Israel's 1967 borders with minor adjustments, The New York Times reported.

"We are not in a rush in taking decisions," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee. "We are trying to behave in responsibility and wisdom. We are not under pressure."

Qaif Abdul Kareem, a member of the Palestinian legislative council, agreed, saying, "The general atmosphere shows that the United States formula is not a proper base for resuming negotiations. The majority are against returning back to negotiations without freezing settlements and without a clear reference to negotiations based on 1967 borders."

Meanwhile, other Palestinian demands for renewed peace talks include a West Bank airport and a permit to search for natural gas off Gaza, Ynetnews.com reported.

The Palestinians want to build an airport in the West Bank city of Ramallah, build hotels along the Dead Sea shore and be allowed to search for natural gas off the shores of the Gaza Strip, the sources told the Israeli website.

Al-Hayat newspaper reported Kerry hopes to announce the official resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians before his return to Washington. Sources in the Palestinian Embassy in Amman told the Arabic daily significant progress has been made in talks between Kerry and Abbas.

In the past, Israel allowed the Palestinians to build an airport in the Gaza Strip but destroyed it during the Second Intifada because of terrorist activities. The Palestinians say an airport will not only aid in boosting tourism, but will also serve to enhance the economy. The Western sources told Ynetnews if Israel agrees to permit the Palestinians to build hotels along the Dead Sea, an area under exclusive Israeli control, it will have to change the status and reassign the lands so they would be under Palestinian municipal control and Israel's military control.

(The Oslo Accords required areas in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley to be divided into three areas: those under total Palestinian control, those where Israel maintains security control and the Palestinians municipal control, and a third under total Israeli control).

The Palestinians also want Israel to allow them to search for natural gas off Gaza's shores, Western sources told Ynetnews.com.

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