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Abbas wants U.S. as PA rep in talks

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the Obama administration to negotiate with Israel on his behalf.

Abbas has proposed that the United States negotiate the final borders of a Palestinian state, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed Abbas aide.

Such an arrangement could help Abbas save face, since he has declared that he will not return to the peace negotiating table until Israel stops all construction in West Bank settlements, including eastern Jerusalem.

The proposal comes as U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell was scheduled to arrive Wednesday evening in Israel in another bid to bring the sides to the negotiating table.

Abbas made the proposal recently in meetings with Egyptian officials, who relayed the recommendation to U.S. officials, the AP reported.

Mitchell will meet separately with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and Friday. Abbas is expected to discuss the idea with Mitchell.

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