The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

July 18, 2013

Palestinian leaders undecided on Kerry proposal

RAMALLAH, West Bank — A high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest peace proposal ended without a decision on Thursday, casting a cloud of uncertainty over months of American mediation efforts.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas convened Thursday's gathering after a lengthy meeting with Kerry earlier in the week. While Kerry has not publicized details of his plan, the Arab League's decision Wednesday to endorse his proposal raised speculation that the Palestinians would agree. Abbas traditionally has sought the blessing of his Arab brethren before making any major diplomatic initiative.

After the meeting, participants gave mixed accounts and said many potential obstacles lay ahead. A committee headed by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top aide to Abbas, was set to meet later Thursday for more discussions.

"There are currently no plans for an announcement on the resumption of negotiations," Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Kerry, told reporters in neighboring Jordan. An Israeli Cabinet minister said no deal was imminent.

A U.S. official said Kerry would consult with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Friday before ending his visit to the Middle East and returning to the United States but made no mention of an announcement of new negotiations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Kerry's plans publicly.

Kerry has been shuttling for months in search of a formula to allow resumption of talks after a nearly five-year break. Talks have been stalled since late 2008, with the status of Israeli settlements at the heart of the deadlock.

The Palestinians have demanded that Israel stop building in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war that the Palestinians claim for a future state, before talks can resume. They also say Israel should agree that its pre-1967 lines should be the basis of a final border, with modifications reached through agreed "land swaps."

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