Wide gaps on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

By Xinhua,

Ramallah : A Palestinian negotiator said on Sunday that gaps in the peace talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel are still wide.

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“No progress was made on any issue of the final status,” the negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told Voice of Palestine. “The main obstacle which destroys the peace process and its credibility is the continuation of the settlement constructions and the imposing of facts on the ground.”

However, Erekat added that reaching a peace deal this year – before U.S. President George W. Bush’s term ends- “still possible but it depends on decisions that the Israeli government should made.”

The U.S. administration in November mediated the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which are intended to end with the creation of a Palestinian statehood alongside Israel.

The negotiations try to solve outstanding issues of Jerusalem, the settlements, the Palestinian refugees, water and border issues.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives to the region Saturday to follow up the progress of the talks. She is expected to put pressure on Israel to stop building new settlements in the territories that will be part of the future Palestinian statehood.

Besides, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask Rice to press Israel to accept an Egyptian offer for a ceasefire in Gaza Strip, according to Erekat.

Hamas controls the strip one year ago after it routed pro-Abbas forces.