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03:34 AM | Fri, 09 Dec 2016

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Israeli diplomat says peace talks with Palestinians 'not on agenda'

273 Days ago

Jerusalem, March 11 (IANS) The Israeli government does not intend to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians in the near future, the country's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Thursday.

"Negotiations with the Palestinians are currently not on the government's agenda," Hotovely told Israel Radio.

She said Israel's top concern is to halt a six-month wave of violent Palestinian uprising, suggesting that peace talks could only start after the violence abates, Xinhua reported.

Her remarks came as US Vice President Joe Biden was leaving Israel after a two-day visit that triggered a spate of attacks, claiming the lives of a US tourist and at least six Palestinian assailants, who were shot dead by security forces.

The last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians was brokered by the US and ended in April 2014 after reaching an impasse.

In January, France announced a bid to convene an international conference aiming at bringing about a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that if the efforts to kick-start the negotiations reached a deadlock, Paris would recognise a Palestinian state.

Israel slammed the initiative, with its hardliner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying it "gives incentive for the Palestinians not compromise".

Meanwhile, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat blamed Israel on Thursday for "loss of hope and political horizon" to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Erekat said in an emailed press statement that Israel is following the "policy of dictations, settlements, imposition of new realities, collective punishment, house demolitions, ethnic cleansing, field executions, siege and closure to destroy the two- state solution, which lead to loss of hope and political horizon."

The PLO secretary general also called for the release of Palestinian parliamentarians from Israeli jails, including Fatah party's Marwan Barghouti.

Since the Palestinian unrest began in mid-September, at least 175 Palestinians have been killed, mainly amid attacks or attempted attacks, and 28 Israelis have also been killed.

Israeli leaders say the Palestinian National Authority is "inciting" the violence, while the Palestinians say it is the result of 49 years of Israeli occupation of their lands and deplore excessive use of Israeli force against Palestinians in protests and after alleged attacks. (IANS)

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