BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinians propose peace talks after UN vote

FILE - Palestinians gather in front of municipal electoral campaigns bearing portraits of president Mahmud Abbas (2nd L) and late leader Yasser Arafat (2nd R) on October 6, 2012 in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (AFP PHOTO/MUSA AL-SHAER)

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The Palestinian president appears to be backing away from his longstanding demand for Israel to halt West Bank settlement construction before peace talks resume.

Mahmoud Abbas told European diplomats Tuesday that he will resume talks after the U.N. votes on a Palestinian request for "nonmember state" status. A vote is expected in November.

Abbas made no mention of a settlement freeze, and officials said Abbas believes a freeze would no longer be necessary if he receives U.N. recognition of a state that includes all of the West Bank.

Peace talks have been frozen for nearly four years, in large part because of Palestinian demand for a settlement freeze and Israel's refusal to accept it.

While U.N. recognition is largely symbolic, the Palestinians believe it will bolster them in future negotiations.

 

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