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Senior Palestinian Calls for Kosovo-Like Independence


A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinians should follow the example of Kosovo and unilaterally declare independence. VOA's Jim Teeple reports the idea was dismissed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and by Israeli officials

Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Voice of Palestine radio that Israel is not serious about reaching a peace deal with Palestinians and so, Palestinians should declare independence.

Abed Rabbo says Israel is trying to buy time until the end of the year by talking about procedural issues in peace talks and avoiding the real issues. He says Palestinians should look to Kosovo as a model and declare independence as an alternative to peace talks.

A statement issued by the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out any moves to unilaterally declare independence, saying Palestinians expect to reach a peace agreement with Israel this year.

Mr. Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert late Tuesday in Jerusalem. Both men pledged to accelerate their talks, but revealed no new progress aimed at addressing the core issues that are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the future borders of a Palestinian state, the issue of refugees, and the status of Jerusalem.

Mark Regev a spokesman for Mr. Olmert says the issue of Palestinians unilaterally declaring their independence has never come up in talks between Israelis and Palestinians. He says the talks are difficult, but a peace deal is possible by the end of the year.

"It is not going to be easy," Regev said. "The issues on the table are difficult, but with hard work, and if both sides come to the table and are willing to make compromises, I believe it is possible to have such a deal. "

The chief Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis, former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, told the Associated Press the Palestinian leadership has not discussed the issue of unilaterally declaring independence. He said talks with the Israelis are broad-ranging, but that no progress has been made so far.

The Palestine Liberation Organization declared independence in absentia in 1989, but the declaration was not recognized by the international community because at the time Palestinians did not control any territory.

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