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Palestinian international appeal ‘unrealistic’: Netanyahu

FILE : Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, left, walks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with Special Middle East Peace Envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell, behind center, at his residence in Jerusalem, Israel Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. Clinton is in the region for Mideast peace talks.(Getty Images / AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

October 24, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FRANCE 24 / AFP ) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the Palestinians not to abandon stalled peace talks in favour of an “unrealistic” appeal to the international community.

“We expect the Palestinians to honour their commitment to hold direct negotiations,” Netanyahu said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting.

“I think that any attempt to bypass them by appealing to international bodies is unrealistic and will not give any impetus to a genuine diplomatic process,” he said.

The United States convinced the two sides to relaunch direct peace talks in early September but the Palestinians suspended them later that month following the expiration of a partial Israeli settlement moratorium.

Palestinian officials have since said that if Israel does not impose a new freeze they may seek recognition of their promised state from the United States, the UN Security Council or the General Assembly.

Netanyahu said he was holding “intensive contacts with the American administration in order to restart the diplomatic process.”

But he appeared to shy away from recent reports that US and Israeli negotiators have been discussing a raft of security and other incentives in exchange for a 60-day extension of the moratorium to allow the talks to resume.

“Our goal is not just to resume the process, but to advance it in such a way that it cannot be halted in a few weeks or months,” he said.

After months of US shuttle diplomacy, Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas relaunched the talks in Washington on September 2 with the goal of reaching a full peace deal within one year.

However they remain divided on the core issues of the conflict that have bedevilled past efforts to reach a deal, and the Palestinians view the settlement dispute as a crucial test of Israel’s intentions.

They have long seen the presence of some 500,000 Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem as a major obstacle to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

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