Ma'an News Agency
July 27, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas will request an extension to US-mediated indirect talks with Israel from the Arab Peace Initiative Committee when in Cairo on Thursday, a PLO official said Monday.

Executive Committee member Hannah Amireh told Ma'an radio that Abbas would ask for talks to continue until 8 September, one month over the 4-month deadline sanctioned by the Arab League.

Abbas will also discuss the possibility of re-entering into direct negotiations with Israel, Amireh said.

The official said Abbas was facing "political and economic" pressure to enter into direct talks. The president, he said, told Executive Committee members that Israel refuses to declare its position on talks before returning to negotiations.

The committee is set to evaluate the US-brokered talks and discuss the agenda for the remaining two months.

Amireh said there was a joint Palestinian and Arab consensus that the Palestinian Authority would not enter direct talks until Israel committed to a halt in settlement construction and "provocations in Jerusalem" as well as abide by international law.

He said it was likely that the committee would agree on the PA's reservations on direct negotiations and allow talks to continue until the set deadline, "despite the fact that these talks had reached an impasse."

He added that if the PA did not achieve results from talks with Israel, it would turn to the UN Security Council to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state and approach the International Court of Justice for rulings on Palestinian land occupied by Israel.

The Arab League endorsed the so-called proximity talks in May, after they were derailed in March following Israel's announcement of further settlement construction in East Jerusalem.

In mid-July, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit said the Arab League was prepared to approach the UN Security Council to declare a Palestinian state should the indirect talks fail.


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