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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says a third intifada could break out over failed negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Abbas opposes any type of military confrontation or armed struggle with Israel, he told Al Jazeera television over the weekend.

Abbas said the Palestinians had no intention of unilaterally declaring a state at this stage, despite the efforts to promote recognition of a Palestinian state by countries around the world.

Abbas said the Palestinians had contingency plans that he declined to discuss in detail, but said this year would be critical.

Abbas criticized the U.S. administration and didn't conceal his disappointment over President Barack Obama's lack of success in advancing the peace process. The Palestinian leader said he opposed a secret negotiating track. He noted suggestions for such talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying there was no use for these discussions as long as Israel refused to agree that the 1967 border would be the agreed-on frontier between the two states.

Understandings with Bush

In the interview with Al Jazeera, Abbas said understandings had been reached with President George W. Bush that included an Israeli readiness to recognize East Jerusalem defined by the 1967 border as the capital of a Palestinian state. But ultimately Israel rebuffed Bush's efforts to implement those understandings.

According to the Palestinian news agency, Abbas will leave for Cairo tomorrow for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Palestinian stance on a state of their own and the condemnation of Israeli settlement policy drew support yesterday from the French foreign minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, who has been visiting the region.

She said France does not recognize the legality of the settlements and Israel must stop construction in them. At the end of her visit to Israel and the Gaza Strip, Alliot-Marie said France supports the establishment of an independent, democratic Palestinian state as soon as possible.

The French foreign minister visited Sderot on Friday, speaking with citizens of the town that has been plagued by Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip in recent years. She also visited Gaza, where she was met by angry protesters, many of them relatives of Palestinian prisoners.

The demonstrators threw shoes and eggs at Alliot-Marie's car due to comments attributed to the French minister that the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit constituted a war crime.

It appears the quote was a mistranslation of her comments that the Red Cross should be permitted to visit the Israeli soldier. Shalit also has French citizenship.