Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the failure of the latest round of exploratory peace talks in Amman on Saturday.
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Abbas made the comments to reporters in Ramallah on Saturday after a meeting with visiting Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore. He claimed that during talks mediated by Jordan in recent weeks, Israel had presented an unclear position on security matters and on the question of borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Palestinian sources said Israel's border proposal would have prevented the establishment a Palestinian state.
Palestinian officials said on Friday that the Israeli delegation's proposal would in practice have created borders based on the route of Israel's security fence. They said Israel was also demanding the right to retain East Jerusalem and Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank. The Palestinian sources said this would divide Palestinian territory into cantons and deprive a future state of territorial contiguity.
The Palestinian delegation was headed by Saeb Erekat, and Israel's delegation was led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy Isaac Molho.
The central committee of Abbas' Fatah party is scheduled to convene Sunday to receive a report from Abbas on the details of the Amman talks.
The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization is expected to hold a meeting tomorrow to decide whether the Palestinian Authority will continue to participate in talks with Israel under Jordanian mediation. Several senior PLO officials said the organization's executive committee intends to bring its decision to a follow-up committee of the Arab League on February 4. Abbas is expected to seek halting talks with Israel.
One executive committee member suggested that the failure of the talks could provide a boost to contacts aimed at reconciliation with Hamas, which retains control of the Gaza Strip. PLO executive committee member Wasel Abu Yousef hinted on Saturday that contacts with Hamas over reconciliation could be accelerated. He added that what he termed "popular resistance against the Israeli occupation" could also be stepped up.
A meeting is scheduled in Cairo for February 3 with leadership from the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to discuss steps at internal Palestinian reconciliation.
Recently several senior PLO officials have threatened to escalate the "popular resistance" following the failure of talks in Amman. However, Palestinian officials have told Haaretz that Israel is not rejecting outright the possibility of gestures to the Palestinian Authority in connection with a continuation of talks.