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Palestinians Accept French Proposal for Mideast Talks

  • Robert Berger

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 25, 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 25, 2011

There is a new effort to restart the stalled Middle East peace process-this time through European mediation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted a French proposal to convene Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Paris to discuss reviving peace talks. The initiative calls for the meeting to take place by early July.

Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Mr. Abbas, says the ball is in Israel's court. In remarks broadcast on Israel Television, Erekat said the French initiative supports U.S. President Barack Obama's call for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. He said the Palestinians are waiting for an answer from the Israeli government.

Israel is considering the proposal.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said senior officials would meet in the coming days to formulate a response.

It is a problematic issue for Israel. During a visit to Washington last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly clashed with President Obama, saying Israel would not return to the 1967 borders which he described as "indefensible."

In Tel Aviv Saturday, about 10,000 Israelis held a march for peace, demanding that Mr. Netanyahu change course.

Yariv Oppenheimer, who heads the left-wing Peace Now movement, called on Mr. Netanyahu to accept the French proposal. He said the Prime Minister must prove to the Israeli public that "he wants peace and not a collision in September."

That was a reference to fears of an eruption of violence in September, when the Palestinians plans to seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state without Israel's approval.

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