RAMALLAH, (AFP) — Two top Egyptian officials met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday to discuss reviving stalled peace talks with Israel.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met Abbas at his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah, an AFP correspondent reported.
Senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajub told AFP the talks would focus on US-led efforts to revive the stalled peace process as well as efforts to reconcile the rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas.
“This visit is a message to the Palestinian leadership confirming the Egyptian leadership’s support, and it’s a message to the international community and Israel affirming that the ball is in the Israeli court,” he said.
“They will discuss peace efforts and look at Palestinian, Arab and international mechanisms to get the Israeli government to adhere to a continuation of the settlement freeze,” Rajub added.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in early September but ground to a halt later that month when a 10-month partial moratorium on settlement construction expired.
Arab foreign ministers have given Washington until early November to resolve the impasse before they meet to discuss alternatives to the negotiations, but there has been little sign of progress in recent weeks.
The Palestinians view the presence of 500,000 Israelis in more than 120 settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, as a major obstacle to the establishment of their promised state.
So far, Israel has refused to renew the moratorium and insisted the thorny issue of settlements be resolved as part of a final peace deal.