No breakthroughs reported following Mubarak-Abbas meeting

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Mahmoud Abbas did not announce a willingness to return to peace talks with Israel following a meeting with Hosni Mubarak.

Monday’s meeting between the presidents of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh was to discuss international efforts to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Many expected the announcement of a three-way meeting that included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas said following the meeting that he would not set preconditions to restarting the talks, but also would not come to the table until Israel halts all settlement construction. The Palestinians have expressed a desire for talks to pick up where they left off under Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian newspaper reported Monday that a U.S. peace plan set to be made public includes guarantees by Israel that a Palestinian state would be established in two years. The guarantees would be set down in formal letters from both sides, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Al Ahram newspaper.

The United States is reported to be drafting the letters, which will be delivered to Israel and the Palestinians in the coming weeks, heralding the start of final-status talks, according to reports.

U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to visit the region at the end of the month.

Abbas arrived Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh following a secret diplomatic visit to Jordan. His meetings with Egyptian officials on Sunday reportedly centered on reconciling with the Hamas leadership.
 

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