Ma'an News Agency
October 28, 2010 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit and Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will meet President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday in efforts to revive stalled peace negotiations.

The Egyptian officials will try to convince Abbas to accept a partial freeze on construction in settlements, excluding settlements that Israel intends to annex in a peace agreement, the official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA said.

The report said the proposal was a US initiative aimed at restarting direct talks between the PLO and Israel by mid-November, and that it had already been conveyed to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Peace talks, relaunched in Washington on 2 September, reached a deadlock within weeks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to extend temporary restrictions on settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. Despite pleas from the international community -- including the US, UN and EU -- full scale settlement construction resumed across the West Bank as the freeze expired on 26 September.

At an Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, earlier this month, Arab leaders opted to give the US one month to resolve the crisis, after which they would reconvene to discuss alternatives to negotiations. PLO official Nabil Sha'ath said negotiations were stalled so the White House could sort out US mid-term elections in early November, during which the US president's Democratic party is expected to lose seats.

The proposal which Abu Gheit and Sulieman will present to Abbas will come with a promise from the US administration that Washington will exert pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories in order to reach a peace agreement within one year, WAFA said.

While land-swaps of settlement blocs for land annexed by Israel in 1948 have been proposed as part of a two-state solution, details of potential swaps have yet to be agreed on.

Earlier this month, PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo called on Israel to present a map showing its borders "before asking anything else," in response to a demand by Netanyahu that Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state.

Describing Abed Rabbo's request as "perfectly legitimate," US State Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley said borders were "the essence of the negotiation – what are the borders of a future Palestinian state, and conversely, what will be the borders of the Israeli state."


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