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January 05, 2011

Israel Asks Egypt to Push Palestinians on Peace Talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to persuade Palestinian leaders to return to direct peace negotiations.

Netanyahu's office said the two leaders held a "lengthy, friendly and comprehensive discussion" Thursday in Egypt's resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.  

A spokesman from Mubarak's office said the Egyptian leader urged Netanyahu to review his policies and take "confidence-building measures" toward the Palestinians for peace talks to continue.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton discussed the Middle East peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials in Ramallah Thursday, following a similar meeting Wednesday with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.

Ashton urged the Middle East Quartet, which consists of representatives from the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations, to meet as soon as possible to find a solution for the current impasse.

VOA Middle East Monitor host Susan Yackee interviews White House correspondent Kent Klein on the state of U.S. involvement in the peace process:

Late Wednesday, Jordan's King Abdullah warned Israel and the Palestinians against "wasting more time" in their stalled talks. He commented during a phone conversation with Netanyahu.  

A statement from the Jordanian leader's office says he also warned Netanyahu that the current stalemate could threaten regional peace and stability.

Direct talks between the two sides stalled after an Israeli settlement construction moratorium expired in late September.  Palestinians oppose construction on occupied land they want as part of a future state.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority's chief delegate at the United Nations said Arab states are preparing a Security Council resolution that would condemn Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, said an initial draft of the resolution, backed by more than a dozen countries, was delivered to Security Council members last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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