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Palestinian President outlines new terms for peace talks with Israel

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he'll resume direct peace talks if Israel accepts its 1967 frontier as a baseline for the borders of a Palestinian state and agrees to the deployment of an international force to guard them.

Abbas is under growing pressure from the United States to resume negotiations. He met Saturday with President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.

Abbas' latest comments, published Saturday in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad, hinted at some flexibility in his position. The Palestinian leader did not mention a comprehensive Israeli settlement freeze as a condition for negotiations — something he has underlined as crucial in the past.

However, it seems unlikely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet Abbas' demands. Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations, insisting on talks without conditions.

The Palestinians are wary of entering talks with the hardline Netanyahu after 17 years of intermittent talks with a succession of Israeli leaders failed to bring them any closer to statehood.

The Palestinians want to establish their state in territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War: The West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Netanyahu has not said how much occupied territory he is willing to relinquish for a Palestinian state. However, he has said he will not give up control of Jerusalem and has insisted on a continued Israeli troop presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state.

Mitchell, Obama's Mideast envoy, would only say he was "heartened" by the talks he has held in the region in recent days and that he would return soon.

The U.S. envoy has been shuttling between Abbas and Netanyahu in recent weeks to try to close some of the gaps between the sides.

Abbas, Netanyahu and Mitchell are scheduled to meet separately with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo today to determine the prospects for a return to direct negotiations.

Palestinian President outlines new terms for peace talks with Israel 07/17/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 17, 2010 9:42pm]
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