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svgadminsvgJuly 4, 2012svgNews

Abbas to Meet Clinton, Hollande in Paris

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the French President Francois Hollande this week.

Erekat said Abbas will stress the importance of releasing PA jailed in Israel when he meets with the leaders, according to a statement from his office.

He added that Abbas will also meet EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, and the British, German and Norwegian foreign ministers during his two-day trip to Paris.

World diplomats are currently gathering for a “Friends of Syria” meeting in the French capital. The summit is a bid by world leaders to bridge Arab and Western positions over the conflict in Syria.

However, Russia – which says the group is biased in favor of opposition to President Bashar Assad – refuses to attend.

A spokesman for Abbas’ office said last month that the PA leader will only meet with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu if Israel agrees to free seriously ill prisoners, including those detained prior to the Oslo accords.

Specifying pre-Oslo and sick prisoners is a step down from Abbas’ previous position, which was the unconditional release of all PA prisoners from Israeli prisons.

However, the prisoner issue remains only one of several preconditions Abbas has thrown in the path of renewed peace talks between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

He has also demanded Israel agree to the indefensible pre-1967 lines as the borders for a future PA state and impose a second building freeze in Judea and Samaria before he agrees to come to the negotiating table.

Israeli officials note that a previous 10-month building freeze by Israel aimed at meeting Abbas’ demand was rebuffed and not only met with additional preconditions, but a unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords as well.

They say Abbas’ current raft of preconditions are a fait accompli intended to forestall talks that would require him to make concessions he has not prepared his people for.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is ready to resume talks immediately without preconditions from either side.

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