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Palestinian President: No Peace Talks Without Settlement Freeze

Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a presser following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, 21 Nov 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority will not return to peace talks with Israel unless the Israelis halt settlement construction in all of the Palestinian territories, including disputed East Jerusalem.

Mr. Abbas said in Egypt Sunday there cannot be peace talks as long as Israelis continue to build where Palestinians want to create a future state. Israel says it will not accept any requirement for a freeze on construction in the disputed area of the holy city.

U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down after a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expired in September.

Mr. Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday and with Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Saturday to discuss Israeli settlement activities and other obstacles to the resumption of direct talks.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration said it was ready to offer Israel written security guarantees, in an effort to help re-start talks.

The written offer would formalize understandings reached earlier this month between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan includes providing Israel 20 F-35 stealth jets.

Meanwhile, an Israeli military court handed down suspended jail sentences to two Israeli soldiers who used a Palestinian boy as a human shield.

The two soldiers were convicted of forcing a boy to search bags for any hidden explosives.

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

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