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Abbas: Palestinians Serious About Peace Deal

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, attends the midnight Mass ceremony at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 25 Dec 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that Palestinians have not given up on peace negotiations with Israel.

Abbas hosted about 100 Israeli lawmakers, peace activists and journalists at his West Bank headquarters, and urged the group to spread the message that he is committed to peace.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down after an Israeli settlement moratorium expired in late September.

Also Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a new report from a human rights group, which says Israel stifles the development of Palestinian communities in the West Bank, while Israeli settlements flourish.

The report by New York-based Human Rights Watch calls on the United States to withhold some aid to Israel because of what it says are discriminatory practices.

Netanyahu said the "hypocrisy of human rights groups" must be exposed, saying they "turn a blind eye to the most repressive regimes in the world" while targeting democratic Israel.

Palestinians oppose Israeli construction on land they want to use as part of a future state.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday blamed Israel for the stalemate in peace negotiations. He told Egypt's parliament Israel should realize that the security of its people will be achieved through "peace," not "arms" or "occupation."

Mubarak is a U.S. ally, and has remained involved in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

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