Abbas to send Netanyahu letter on 17 April

AFP , Sunday 8 Apr 2012

Delegation of senior Palestinian Authority officials to meet Israel PM in mid-April to discuss possibility of restarting stalled peace talks

Palestinian officials will deliver a letter from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmud Abbas to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 17 April, an official told AFP on Sunday.

The Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the letter would be handed to Netanyahu by a delegation of senior Palestinians.

"It was agreed that a Palestinian delegation, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestine Liberation Organisation Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, will meet with Netanyahu on the 17th of this month," the official said.

Abbas has said for several weeks that he was in the process of penning a letter to Netanyahu dealing with the current state of direct peace negotiations, which have been on hold since late September 2010.

The letter will reportedly lay out Palestinian conditions for resuming negotiations, including a halt to illegal Israeli settlement construction and clear parameters for discussions on future borders.

Abbas has indicated that he would accuse Netanyahu of rendering the PA government "a non-authority," but is expected to stop short of threatening to disband the PA as reports had earlier suggested he would.

Netanyahu's office has indicated that he would respond with his own letter to Abbas, which is likely to call for a resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions.

Last week, Erakat and Netanyahu's envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, held talks believed to have focused on the contents of Abbas' letter.

They were the first publicly acknowledged discussions since five rounds of so-called exploratory talks between envoys from both sides were held earlier this year.

Those discussions, sponsored by the Middle East peacemaking "Quartet" and held in Amman, ended in January without any agreement to continue talking or to return to direct negotiations.

The Palestinians have accused Israel of failing to present proposals on borders and security called for by the Quartet, which includes the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

Israel says it wants talks without preconditions, but the Palestinians have sought an Israeli settlement freeze and clear parameters for discussions before resuming direct negotiations.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since September 2010 due to a dispute over Israel's continued construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements.

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