Israel and the Palestinian Authority have failed to agree on a joint statement to be presented at next week's U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on Friday.
At a briefing to the foreign ministers on the progress of talks between Israel and the PA, Abbas said the negotiations were genuine, but both sides stuck to their positions, and Israel brought about the talks failure.
The negotiating teams are not expected to meet again before a Monday session in the United States, one day before the summit. Should the teams fail in that final effort to formulate a statement, the summit will conclude with a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza, and not a joint Israel-PA statement.
On Thursday, Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the Annapolis conference is stillborn and will achieve nothing for the Palestinians.
"We realize that this conference was stillborn and is not going to achieve for the Palestinian people any of its goals or any of the political and legal rights due to them," Haniyeh said outside the Palestinian parliament building in Gaza City.
Haniyeh said Abbas did not have the mandate to make compromises in talks with Israel, especially over the demand of Palestinian refugees to return with their families to homes in Israel they lost during the 1948 War of Independence.
"No one is authorized to compromise or to give up any of these rights, especially the right of return," Haniyeh said.
Haniyeh also called on Abbas not to cave in to a recent Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. "We do not recognize that this state is Jewish," Haniyeh said.
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