Palestinian Official Denies Receiving Draft Framework From U.S.

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The United States has not presented a draft of the framework peace agreement to be used as the basis for continued peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.

The official contradicted a report in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Thursday, which said the sides had received a copy of the draft framework deal.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat remains in Washington and is holding meetings with American officials, but has yet to receive an outline or final proposal for an agreement, the official said.

The senior source said he spoke with Erekat, who told him that no official document had been presented and that ideas for the framework deal were still being discussed.

In denying the report, the Palestinian official also said the timing would be implausible, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who persuaded Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, is in Paris and currently focused on defusing the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week and is scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 17 at the White House.

Meanwhile, Obama promised Netanyahu during their meeting in Washington that he would pressure Abbas "to make tough decisions," a top U.S. official told Haaretz.

The official said Obama told Netanyahu he would ask Abbas to accept the framework agreement Kerry is formulating and to agree to extend the deadline for talks until the end of 2014.

The Palestinians responded Wednesday to those claims, saying they have nothing left to make concessions on.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.Credit: AP

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