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Mitchell ends round without agreement on talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The top U.S. envoy to the Middle East ended a tour without agreement on renewing talks.

George Mitchell had hoped to lay the groundwork for a summit next week between the Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders during the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

On Friday, Mitchell met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, but failed to secure agreement on the ground rules for renewing talks, according to Abbas’ top negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

A sticking point was Palestinian insistence on a total settlement freeze and on considering all issues, including Jerusalem and refugees, Erekat said.

"There is no agreement yet with the Israeli side and no middle ground solution," he said, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu has agreed to a U.S. plan that would impose a settlement freeze for about six months while allowing "natural growth" in existing settlements.

Additionally, Israel wants to only consider borders for now.

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