Abbas asks negotiators to return to talks

Nov. 17, 2013 at 7:36 AM
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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told his two-man team to return to peace negotiations with Israel or they will be replaced, officials said.

Sources in Ramallah told Israel Radio Sunday if negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh refuse to return to the negotiating table, Abbas would appoint two new negotiators to engage in peace talks with Israel.

The two Palestinian negotiators tended their resignations two weeks ago, citing a stalemate in talks.

Abbas' adviser Nimr Hamad said if an agreement is reached on borders and security arrangements within the nine-month framework U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allotted to the sides, the refugee issue could be dealt with later. The Palestinians want Israel to agree to the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a request Israel has refused.

Hamad said he doubted any breakthrough in talks would be made as long as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu avoids altering the composition of his ruling coalition. The Palestinians expect Israel to make further gestures in the framework of talks, he said, but he failed to elaborate.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed talks in July and have since met more than 17 times in Jerusalem and Jericho.

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