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Abbas, Obama meeting to determine talks extension

March 3, 2014 1:51 A.M. (Updated: March 5, 2014 7:39 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The extension of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations will be determined by the upcoming meeting between presidents Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama, a Palestinian official said Sunday.

Representative at the Arab League Mohammad Sbeih told Ma’an that "extending negotiations ... is highly dependent on Abu Mazen’s (Abbas') visit to Washington and what will be proposed."

“Until now, (the position) is not to extended negotiations,” Sbeih said of an April deadline for agreeing a framework agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sbeih added that if Abbas wants to extend the negotiations he will propose that option to the Arab League, and it would be largely dependent on progress so far.

Sbeih explained that any deal would have to be based on the Arab Peace Initiative -- a 2002 offer by the Arab and Muslim world to recognize Israel in exchange for a just resolution on the conflict -- and “East Jerusalem, not Beit Hanina” as the capital of a Palestinian state.

“There will be no (recognition of) a Jewish state”, he added, referring to a key demand by Netanyahu's negotiators.

A meeting of Arab foreign ministers will be held on March 9 in which Abbas will brief them on the updates of the negotiations, Sbeih said.

He added that PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has met with Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil El-Araby and Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmi.

Erekat informed Arab officials that no written framework was proposed so far, and that “the general atmosphere is uncomfortable.”
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