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Jailed Palestinian Leader Urges Peace With Israel


Jailed senior Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti says Palestinians are ready for peace with Israel, and he urges both sides to reach a cease-fire agreement as soon as possible.

Barghouti affirmed his call for a two-state solution in a letter to be read Tuesday by members of Israel's Peace Now Movement on its 30th anniversary. The group advocates peace with Palestinians, and opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences for his involvement in deadly attacks on Israelis during a Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resumed talks recently to try to reach a peace deal by the end of the year.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said most of Monday's discussions in Jerusalem focused on Israel's construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

He said the construction is damaging the credibility of the peace process and could undermine the chances of reaching an agreement.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says the Israelis raised concerns that Palestinian security forces are not doing enough to stop militant attacks on Israel.

But he said Mr. Abbas and Mr. Olmert agreed not to allow security and settlement concerns to hurt efforts for peace this year.

The meeting at Mr. Olmert's Jerusalem residence was the leaders' first since February 19.

Mr. Abbas suspended negotiations last month to protest an Israeli offensive in Gaza that killed more than 120 Palestinians. Israel said it launched the offensive to stop cross-border attacks by Hamas militants.

There have been no breakthroughs since the two sides resumed talks last November.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.