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Palestinian Militants Protest Peace Talks

Masked Palestinian Hamas militants hold a press conference in Gaza City, 2 Sept. 2010.
Masked Palestinian Hamas militants hold a press conference in Gaza City, 2 Sept. 2010.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have wrapped up the first round of their newly relaunched direct peace talks and may now have to confront opposition from the region.

Palestinian militants rejected the talks and vowed to continue to attack Israelis.

A spokesman for the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, says 13 militant groups have joined forces to launch more effective attacks against Israel, including possible suicide bombings.

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Hamas militants claimed responsibility for two attacks this week on Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio quotes a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party as saying Mr. Netanyahu will seek middle ground in talks. Cabinet minister Gilad Erdan says the prime minister is committed to Israel keeping as much of the West Bank as possible while finding a Palestinian solution.

The meeting between Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's in Washington Thursday, marked the first direct peace talks in nearly two years.

After the session, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the leaders agreed to produce a framework for a permanent peace deal and to hold a second round of direct talks on September 14 and 15.

Mr. Netanyahu said Israel is demanding security assurances from the Palestinians and a lasting recognition of Israel's right to exist. Mr. Abbas said Palestinians called on Israel to end all settlement activity, and also to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

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