Palestinians say Israel must meet demands if peace talks extended

Photo: Palestinians say Israel must meet demands if peace talks extended / Israel-Arab Relations

As the ongoing U.S.-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians continue to falter, a Palestinian official said Sunday that any extension of the negotiations must include demands on Israel, Xinhua reported.

"A full halt of Israel's settlement activity and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are our conditions to extend the peace negotiations," Nabil Shaath, a central committee member of the Fatah movement, told state-run Voice of Palestine radio.

On Saturday, a Palestinian official, who spoke to Xinhua on condition of anonymity, said there might be a conditional extension of the current peace talks which are set to end this April.

Obama is set to meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in mid-March to discuss the faltering peace negotiations. In late February, a Palestinian official said Abbas originally dismissed the idea of extending the nine-month peace talks with Israel when asked about it by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that the negotiators needed to solve problems within the remaining time.

However, Sunday's statements may signal that Palestinian leadership is open to putting off the deadline if it will give them more leverage.

Since the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations last July after a three-year halt, the U.S. has been working to narrow the gaps between the two sides on a framework plan for peace that could end their prolonged conflict.

Ten days ago, Abbas and Kerry held talks in Paris in which Kerry presented his ideas for Palestinians are seeking an independent state in the territories Israeli occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

They also want a fair solution to the issue of refugees, who fled their homes during the Palestinian-Israeli war in 1948, and to the issue of Jewish settlements that dot the Palestinian West Bank.

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