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Israeli, Palestinian negotiators seek to rescue troubled talks

Source: Reuters - Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:55 GMT
Author: Reuters
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JERUSALEM, April 17 (Reuters) - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met on Thursday in Jerusalem to seek a way to prevent troubled peace talks from collapsing ahead of an April 29 deadline.

Two Israeli sources speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that officials from both sides were meeting in Jerusalem, declining to provide further detail.

The talks had been postponed from Wednesday when emotions ran high in Israel as a funeral was held for an off-duty police officer gunned down while driving his family to a settlement in the West Bank for a Passover holiday meal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority of engaging in anti-Israeli incitement which led to the attack, for which no Palestinian group has claimed responsibility.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement on Wednesday saying he "condemned violence and the killing of Palestinians and Israelis," after Netanyahu charged that he had not condemned Monday's attack.

Peace negotiations for an envisaged two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hit a crisis this month when Abbas signed a package of international conventions. Israel saw that as violating a pledge not to do so that the Palestinians made last July when the talks resumed after a three-year break.

The Palestinians accused Israel of bringing about the crisis by failing to free some two dozen prisoners Israel had pledged to release under a deal struck by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who has brokered the negotiations.

Israel has said it would free the inmates, including convicted killers of Israelis, only if the Palestinians promise to pursue the talks, which have yielded little visible progress, beyond an April 29 deadline set by Kerry last year. (Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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