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Israeli Parliament to Vote on East Jerusalem, Golan Heights Referendum

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, meets with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, 21 Nov. 2010

Israel's parliament is set to vote on a bill that could further stifle future peace deals with the Palestinians or Syrians.

Parliament plans to vote Monday on a bill that would make it more difficult for the Israeli government to cede the captured territories in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The bill requires a super majority of two-thirds of parliament to approve any withdrawal from those areas, which are considered crucial to peace negotiations with Palestinians and Syrians.

If this majority is not achieved in parliament, any move to withdraw must be voted on in a national referendum held within six months of the withdrawal deal.

The vote comes one day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he will not return to peace talks with Israel unless it stops settlement building on all land the Palestinians want for a state, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Abbas said Sunday he will reject a new settlement freeze that Israel is discussing with the United States if such a measure does not include East Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians as a future capital. Israel calls Jerusalem its undivided capital and insists on a right to build anywhere in the city.

The United States is urging Israel to stop construction in West Bank Jewish settlements for 90 days, as a gesture to revive Mideast peace talks. Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel since it ended a previous 10-month freeze on West Bank housing starts in September.

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

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