Rice: PA Will Resume Talks

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Wednesday that Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume negotiations with Israel.

At a press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Rice told reporters that resuming talks with Israel would not be conditioned on a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and she called on Hamas to end rocket attacks on Israel.

"I've been informed by the parties that they intend to resume the negotiations and that they are in contact with one another as to how to bring this about," the secretary of state said.

Earlier in the day, the PA chairman said his government would resume talks only if Israel agreed to halt its operations in Gaza.

"The peace process is a strategic choice, and we have the intention of resuming the peace process," Abbas said Wednesday afternoon, retracting his earlier statement  that Israel reach a truce with the ruling Hamas faction in the Gaza Strip before the PA would resume talks.

Rice also announced that Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials would meet next week with Lt. General William Fraser to discuss the Road Map peace plan.

The U.S.-backed plan calls on the PA to renounce terrorism and route out terror cells, while requiring Israel to halt settlement development.

The Fatah-affiliated PA government is unable to exert any influence in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas takeover last June.

The PA suspended negotiations last Sunday, following Israel's counter-terror operation in Gaza in response to increasing Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israeli communities.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post

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