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Palestinians warn against Israeli attempts to 'derail' talks

Palestinian foreign minister calls on international community to safeguard renewed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks

AFP , Friday 16 Aug 2013

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki lobbied Friday for international help to protect the new round of peace talks with Israel in the face of what he said were Israeli attempts to 'derail' the negotiations.

"Our concern here is really how we could preserve, protect the process from being derailed by Israel and what kind of mechanisms are needed by the international community in order to protect that process," Maliki said after talks in Sofia with his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin.

He said he hoped the international community, including the European Union, could help to ensure the talks were "continuous, serious and results-oriented".

Maliki said he counted on EU member Bulgaria -- a country with close ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority -- to convey his message to the European Union.

Israelis and Palestinians began a new round of direct peace talks on Wednesday in Jerusalem after a nearly three-year break.

The negotiations were however overshadowed by Israel's announcement of plans to build 2,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, infuriating Palestinian officials.

"If you want to go with good faith into the resumption of talks... you do not go and announce publicly that you insist on building further illegal settlement units in the Palestinian occupied territories," Maliki said.

The Palestinians were expecting Israel would do things "in order to undermine the process" but that they themselves were fully committed to the talks.

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