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Quartet group meets sides in bid to restart peace talks


08:49, November 15, 2011

JERUSALEM, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Representatives of the Mideast Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia -- are expected to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Monday, in a bid to renew long-stalled peace talks between the PNA and Israel.

The group will hold talks with Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, according to the Ha'aretz daily.

On Sunday, the Quartet members met in Ramallah with PNA President Mahmoud Abbas.

While the mediators hope to get both sides back to negotiating core issues like Jerusalem, borders, refugees and security, Abbas told U.S. envoy David Hale that the Palestinians would not meet with their Israeli counterparts until West Bank settlement construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem neighborhoods stopped, and Israel accepted the 1967 war lines as a starting point for talks.

In a related development, the government's security-diplomatic cabinet is due to hold talks on Monday to decide whether to hand over some 100 million U.S. dollars in taxes collected on behalf of the PNA.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the relevant government bodies to freeze the monthly fund transfer, as a punitive measure over the Palestinian delegation's acceptance as a full member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last month.

Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet internal security officials believe that halting the funds does more harm than good, inasmuch as the funds cover a large part of the salaries of PNA police, who work closely with their Israeli counterparts in limiting militant activity against both Israel and the PNA in the West Bank.

However, Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz plans to table a program of further economic sanctions on the Palestinians, due to their continued attempts to bypass talks with Israel in favor of making their case for statehood at the UN and some 16 affiliated international bodies.

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