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Israel: Time for Face-to-Face Talks With Palestinians

VOA News 27 May 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to sit down for peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The United States started mediating indirect talks earlier this month, but the Israeli leader said Thursday the sides cannot resolve their differences without talking to each other directly.

Mr. Netanyahu said he would discuss the prospect for direct negotiations next week when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

The Israeli prime minister spoke in Paris, where he met French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He also attended a ceremony to welcome Israel into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a forum to promote economic growth in industrialized nations.

Listen to Susan Yackee's interview with analyst Michael Fischbach on where Mideast peace talks stand:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on a visit to Malaysia, told reporters Thursday that he would not take part in direct talks until both sides reached an agreement on borders for a future Palestinian state.

Mr. Abbas expressed hope that an agreement on borders could be reached within four months, coinciding with a deadline set by the Arab League.

Earlier, Israel's prime minister told the French newspaper Le Figaro that strengthening the Palestinian economy could give the peace process a needed boost.

Mr. Netanyahu did not offer any details on how to make that happen, but said developing the Palestinian economy is one of the region's current challenges.

In the West Bank Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad joined thousands of volunteers handling out leaflets urging Palestinians to boycott products made by Jewish settlements. The Associated Press reported Palestinians officials are also working on plans to raise $50 million to help Palestinians who quit their jobs at Israeli settlements.

Israel's parliament speaker criticized the moves during a tour of an Israeli industrial center in the West Bank Thursday. Reuven Rivlin described the boycott as a hostile action that hurts chances for peace.

Rivlin also expressed concern that the boycott of Israeli goods could soon spread to Arab states.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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