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Palestinians say U.S. favors Israel in peace negotiations

  |   Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:47 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Senior Palestinian officials accused the Obama administration of favoring Israel in peace negotiations between Ramallah and Jerusalem, officials said.

An unnamed Palestinian official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that significant disagreements arose and a difficult atmosphere prevailed during recent meetings between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian sources said Kerry is no longer considered a neutral mediator.

At Washington's initiative, peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July, and a nine-month framework was allotted to the sides to reach an agreement.

The main bones of contention concern the U.S. security proposal for the Jordan Valley which promises an Israeli security presence there for 10 years. Another issue concerns Kerry's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Haaretz said Wednesday.

Palestinian officials are already preparing for the day after, if talks fail, and plan to lobby the international community for support, Haaretz said.

The lack of progress in peace negotiations with Israel has raised the reconciliation issue between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian officials said. Both Palestinian factions feel the public pressure and are embroiled in deep political crisis, Fatah due to the lack of progress in talks with Israel, and Hamas due to the breakdown in ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Haaretz said.

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