Road to Peace with Israel is Blocked: Abbas

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that the failure by United States envoy George Mitchell to a secure a deal on Jewish settlements means the resumption of peace talks with Israel is on hold.

"The road is now blocked," Abbas told reporters after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Mitchell left Israel on Friday after failing to secure a key deal on Jewish settlements. He had spent the day shuttling between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas, after meeting both leaders earlier this week.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas Netanyahu has resisted U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for a complete halt to construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem.

Abbas has ruled out resuming talks unless Israel carries out a total freeze on settlement building in line with its commitment under a 2003 U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.

The two sides are also at odds over the scope and pace of further negotiations, officials say, with Netanyahu reluctant to commit to a timetable, possibly as tight as two years, for a deal that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Abbas said that the burden was now on Israel to clear the way for peace negotiations, adding that Mitchell will resume talks with the Middle East players after the U.N. General Assembly next week.

"There is no more work (for Mitchell) with the Western or Palestinian sides because we are complying with all our duties. The focus has to be on the Israeli side," he said.

Mitchell had been trying to broker a compromise on the thorny issue that would have led to a three-way meeting between Netanyahu, Abbas and Obama on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

He had been aiming to secure some kind of Israeli moratorium that would be acceptable to the Palestinians and enable the resumption of peace talks that were suspended in late December.


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