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August 16, 2013

Abbas: Final-status issues discussed at first round of peace talks

http://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/abbas_final_status_issues_discussed_at_first_round_of_peace_talks

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Aug. 15. Photo by Majdi Mohammed/Reuters

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Aug. 15. Photo by Majdi Mohammed/Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel and the Palestinians discussed all the final-status issues in the first session of peace talks held in Jerusalem.

Abbas’ comments were made Thursday after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Ramallah, the Jerusalem Post reported. The first round of peace talks was held the previous day in Jerusalem under a veil of secrecy.

Abbas said he hoped the talks would be concluded within six to nine months. Final-status issues are understood to be borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security and prisoners.

“It’s premature to say whether we have or haven’t achieved something,” Abbas said. “We hope that the coming days would bring us answers that we could present to all.”

Ban Ki-moon, who travelled to Israel on Friday to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, said in Ramallah that he hoped Israel would “create the appropriate atmosphere by halting settlements which we and the world consider illegitimate.” The Palestinians have “sincere intentions,” he also said.

But Netanyahu told him that the root of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians “doesn’t have to do with the settlements,” the Post reported. “That’s an issue that has to be resolved, but this is not the reason that we have a continual conflict. The conflict preceded the establishment of a single settlement by half a century and when we rooted out all the settlements in Gaza, the attacks continued because of this basic opposition to the Jewish State.”

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