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Palestinians: home demolitions hurt peace talks

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By Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinians have warned a U.S. envoy that it will be difficult to revive peace talks if Washington cannot stop Israel from demolishing Arab homes or building for Jews in east Jerusalem, their chief negotiator said Friday.

White House envoy George Mitchell is expected to try to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting Saturday to agree to direct negotiations with Israel. Abbas aides say they expect Mitchell to tell the Palestinian president what Israel is prepared to do to make that happen.

Abbas has said he won't return to the negotiating table unless Israel freezes all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-won territories the Palestinians want for their state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has curbed construction in the West Bank, but refuses to do so in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as a future capital.

Abbas also wants Israeli assurances that talks will pick up where they broke off under Netanyahu's predecessor in December 2008. Netanyahu has declined to make such a commitment.

Mitchell met with Netanyahu on Friday, but government spokesman Mark Regev would not comment on those talks.


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