August 12, 2010 - 12:00am

The Palestinian leadership is waiting for Israel's response on the proposal that the international Quartet issues a statement to define the references for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.

"We are waiting for the Americans to tell us the Israeli response on our proposal," Saleh Ra'fat, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Radio of Palestine.

Ra'fat said the American peace mediators passed the new proposal to the Israeli government, adding "what we demand are not conditions; they are our rights."

The Palestinians have been pushing to involve the Quartet in the peace discussions to play the role of "a trusted peace reference" and an arbitrator if the direct talks are to happen.

The Quartet, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, European Union and Russia, mediates peace and works on finding a final solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Palestinians and the Israelis have been under pressure to resume direct peace talks, but the Palestinians insisted that Israel has to freeze settlement construction and accept references for the peace process before talks start.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the U.S. Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell met Tuesday in Ramallah, but both failed to agree on going to direct talks.

However, Mitchell, who mediates indirect proximity talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis since May, said after his meeting with the Palestinian leader that a new step towards peacemaking has been made.

Direct talks halted in December 2008 after Israel launched a major offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to curb Palestinian militants from firing rockets on its cities.


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