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Abbas Aide: Israeli PM's Speech Creates 'Obstacles' to Peace

(Left): An Israeli youth waves a national flag during a rally in the coastal city of Ashkelon showing solidarity with the country's armed forces (Right): Israeli Arabs carry a Palestinian flag during a rally to commemorate the October 2000 riots which le

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's parameters for a new round of negotiations, saying they create more obstacles to peace.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh said there was "nothing new" in the Israeli peace guidelines that Mr. Netanyahu presented Tuesday in a speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Rudeineh said the Israeli leader has created "more obstacles" to peace by saying Jerusalem must remain what Mr. Netanyahu called Israel's "united capital" and that final Israeli borders should include major Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister said Israel also seeks to retain a "long-term military presence" in the West Bank's Jordan Valley to prevent weapons smuggling into a future Palestine.

Mr. Abbas's government has said it wants to establish a future state in all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Aides to Mr. Abbas said Tuesday his government will continue to seek international recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September.

The Hamas militant group that rules Gaza said Mr. Netanyahu's speech denies the Palestinians their rights. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said the Palestinians must pursue "resistance" rather than peace talks with Israel. Mr. Netanyahu has said that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas.

Israel and the United States both say Palestinian statehood must be a result of negotiations. U.S. President Barack Obama warned the Palestinians last week that "symbolic" actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations "will not create an independent state."

The head of the West Bank Jewish settlers' council, Danny Dayan, criticized Mr. Netanyahu for saying that some settlements will be located outside of Israel's final borders. Mr. Netanyahu also drew criticism from lawmakers of Israel's main opposition Kadima party who accused him of not being sincere in trying to negotiate peace with the Palestinians.

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

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