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Abbas Mulls Indirect Peace Talks with Israel

VOA News 08 February 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is considering indirect peace talks with Israel that would be mediated by the United States and focus on border issues.

Senior Palestinian officials say the U.S.-proposed talks would involve U.S. envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides for about three months. But they say Mr. Abbas intends to ask for several clarifications and will consult with Arab leaders before agreeing to the talks.

Israeli and Palestinian officials have suggested the discussions could start later this month, more than one year since the two sides suspended peace talks.

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces say they raided a Palestinian refugee camp in east Jerusalem on Monday and arrested 11 people on suspicion of tax evasion.

Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli police during the raid at Shuafat refugee camp. Israeli police say no Palestinians or members of the Israeli security forces were wounded in the incident.

On Sunday, the Israeli military arrested two foreign members of the International Solidarity Movement, which stages protests against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank.

A witness says the activists, both women in their 20s, were detained by Israeli soldiers at their apartment in the West Bank town of Ramallah. One of the activists is from Spain and the other from Australia.

The Israeli army says the two women had overstayed tourist visas they apparently had gotten in Israel, but it also alleged they were involved in illegal riots in the West Bank.

Israel says the separation barrier has succeeded in stopping Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel. Palestinians say the barrier is built on Palestinian land and restricts the movement of Palestinians.

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

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