Israel: No Palestinian peace deal possible now

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By Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has concluded that a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot be reached at this time and is weighing alternatives to try to prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive, officials said Thursday.

With popular protests shaking up the Mideast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fierce international pressure to prove he is serious about getting peacemaking moving again, especially after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's West Bank settlement construction last month.

Israeli officials are meeting with international mediators, including U.S. envoy Dennis Ross and representatives of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia — due to arrive in the region next week.

Government officials say Netanyahu is expected to deliver a major policy speech on peacemaking in the coming weeks, hinting at a change in direction away from direct talks on a peace treaty.

Privately, officials say Netanyahu is considering a phased approach to peacemaking, but contrary to published reports, it is not clear if he is open to the concept of a Palestinian state within temporary borders.

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