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Palestinians expect "practical steps" from UN chief's visit: negotiator

(Xinhua)

08:58, February 02, 2012

RAMALLAH, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians expect the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to come up with "practical steps" for resuming the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks during his visit on Wednesday to Israel and the Palestinian territories, a Palestinian negotiator said.

The Palestinian leadership hopes that Ban will present " practical steps" helping the two sides to resume the peace process, said Hanan Ashrawi.

"There are states that only deal with the necessity of resuming the negotiations without providing atmosphere or conditions to let them succeed or be credible," Ashrawi said.

The United Nations, together with the other three members of the Quartet of Middle East, the United States, the European Union and Russia, proposed in September 2011 "exploratory" talks between Israel and the Palestinians for restarting their direct negotiations that have been stalled since 2010.

In January, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held the exploratory talks in Jordan, but failed to make a breakthrough on the issues of borders and security.

On Monday, the Palestinian leadership blamed Israel for the failure of the exploratory talks, saying that Israel refused to recognize the borders of the future Palestinian state or to halt the settlement building.

The Quartet has pushed Israel to make goodwill gestures to help to resume the peace talks, but Ashrawi said the Palestinians should not pay the price of these steps.

Releasing more prisoners and granting the Palestinians control on more lands in the West Bank are "obligations that Israel has always evaded," Ashrawi said, adding that the Quartet must demand Israel to stop settlement activities.

Ban, who met Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman on Tuesday, called for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

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