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Israel, Palestine to start new round of talks
Thursday October 3, 2013 7:31 PM, IANS

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet late Thursday for the eighth round of their peace talks, Xinhua reported citing the Ha'aretz daily.

The meeting will be attended by Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, the Israeli prime minister's envoy Itzhak Molcho, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US envoy to the Middle East peace process Martin Indyk, who reportedly arrived in Israel Wednesday afternoon.

The peace talks resumed in late July in Washington after almost three years of hiatus caused by Israel's ongoing expansion of its settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, on lands annexed during the 1967 Mideast War, which are expected to be part of the future Palestinian state.

According to a report by the Ma'ariv daily last week, based on comments made by a foreign diplomat, the two sides reached a dead end on the issues of boundaries of the future Palestinian state and security arrangements.

The diplomat also said that the Israeli side refused to formally acknowledge the idea of land swaps, one of the main Palestinian demands in the resumed negotiations.

However, Livni told the Jerusalem Post Wednesday that she aimed to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians and expressed optimism about the talks.

"My goal is an agreement that will end the conflict," she said. "I have never used the term 'interim agreement'."

The Palestinians are demanding that the negotiations be based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps, while Israel has refused to clearly announce its stance on that.

An Israeli official told Xinhua that Israel is focusing on security arrangements and possible presence of the Israeli army in the future Palestinian state.

Tensions have mounted during the negotiations in the past couple of months over Israel's recent announcement of plans to build more than 1,600 housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

US officials, including Indyk and Secretary of State John Kerry, have urged both sides to carry on the talks regardless of the settlement issue.


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