Abbas says the road to Mideast peace talks 'blocked'

CAIRO, Sept 19, 2009 (AFP) - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Saturday that the failure by US envoy George Mitchell to a secure a deal on Jewish settlements means the resumption of peace talks with Israel is on hold.

"The road is now blocked," Abbas told reporters after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) speaks with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in Cairo on September 19, 2009. (AFP photo)

Mitchell left Israel on Friday after failing to secure a key deal on Jewish settlements. He had spent the day shuttling between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas, after meeting both leaders earlier this week.

Abbas said that the onus was now on Israel to clear the way for peace negotiations, adding that Mitchell will resume talks with the Middle East players after the UN General Assembly next week.

"There is no more work (for Mitchell) with the Western or Palestinian sides because we are complying with all our duties. The focus has to be on the Israeli side," he said.

Mitchell had been trying to broker a compromise on the thorny issue that would have led to a three-way meeting betweeNetanyahu, Abbas and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

He had been aiming to secure some kind of Israeli moratorium that would be acceptable to the Palestinians and enable the resumption of peace talks that were suspended in late December.

Netanyahu has rebuffed US calls to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, and Palestinians are sticking to their demand for such a halt before negotiations can resume.

Source: AFP

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