Palestinian peace talks delegation resigns, Abbas says

Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:04pm EST
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By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday his delegation of peace negotiators has resigned over the lack of progress in U.S.-brokered statehood talks with Israel that have been clouded by Jewish settlement building.

The development would mark a new low point for the talks with Israel that resumed in July and which officials from both sides have said have made little headway.

In an interview with Egyptian CBC television, Abbas suggested the negotiations would continue even if the Palestinian peace delegation sticks to its decision.

"Either we can convince it to return, and we're trying with them, or we form a new delegation," he said.

It was unclear from Abbas's interview when the Palestinian negotiators quit, but Abbas said he would need about a week to resume the talks.

In a statement to Reuters TV on Wednesday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat did not elaborate on the report of his resignation, but said the sessions with Israel were frozen.

"In reality, the negotiations stopped last week in light of the settlement announcements last week," he said.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an area now controlled by Hamas Islamists opposed to Abbas's peace moves, with East Jerusalem as its capital. They argue that Israeli settlements deny them a viable country.   Continued...

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb (not pictured) at al-Azhar's headquarters in Cairo, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany