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Israel, Palestinians to Return to Peace Talks, Moscow Says

  • VOA News

FILE — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, at the COP21, the U.N. Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Nov. 30, 2015.

FILE — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, at the COP21, the U.N. Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Nov. 30, 2015.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed "in principle" to resume peace talks in Moscow, the Kremlin announced Thursday.

There is no timetable yet for the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he would meet with Abbas anywhere and at any time, as long as there were no preconditions for the talks.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said both sides have to show they are committed to a two-state solution before there can be any successful negotiations.

"It's our belief that — and this speaks broadly to any peace negotiations, but certainly in this case ... if you don't have the right climate for them to be successful, then it's not worth having it," Toner said.

He said he was not sure on what level the U.S. would participate in the Moscow talks.

Long gap in talks

There have been no Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in more than two years, and conditions in the region seem to have worsened since then.

Israel is continuing to plan and build Jewish settlements in lands the Palestinians want for a future state. Palestinians have carried out a series of knife attacks on Israeli civilians, police and soldiers since last year in response to rumors Israel was planning to take over an East Jerusalem holy site revered by Jews and Muslims. Israel has accused Palestinian leaders of inciting the violence, while the Palestinians demand the end of settlement activity as a condition for talks.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials denied an Israeli television report late Wednesday that said Abbas was a Soviet KGB agent in Syria in the 1980s.

Two Israeli researchers said they found the proof in documents unearthed in archives at Cambridge University in Britain.

The papers purportedly identify Abbas as using the code name "mole."

Palestinian officials dismissed the report as an "Israeli smear campaign" and an attempt to derail the peace process.

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