Israel, P.A. to Submit Proposals in Three Months

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to present "comprehensive proposals" addressing territory and security within three months, the Quartet -- U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia -- announced on Wednesday.

While the Quartet continues to call for a resumption of direct talks "without delays or preconditions," the P.A. refuses to negotiate until Israel accepts the pre-1967 armistice lines and a total construction freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem -- both non-starters for Israel.

P.A. negotiator Saeb Erekat called the preconditions "obligations in accordance with international law," while noting that "issuing statements and press releases is not enough."

Following the P.A.'s bid for unilateral statehood in September at the United Nations, the Quartet proposed a one-year timetable to produce a final agreement.

On Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent a letter to foreign embassies in Israel saying, "no agreement will ever be possible as long as Mahmoud Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority."

"Unfortunately, a realistic appraisal of the situation indicates that attempts to proceed further at this time toward political understandings will surely end in failure," the letter stated.

While Israel "has gone to great lengths to build confidence and create an atmosphere conducive" to restarting talks, the P.A. has "adamantly refused to engage in direct negotiations, pursuing an increasingly hostile, confrontational and unilateral approach," the foreign minister wrote.

"This conduct has effectively blocked any possibility for political progress and, if left unchecked could endanger the vital economic and security cooperation that exists on the ground between the sides," Lieberman said.

Lieberman noted that Abbas is more interested in being remembered as the leader who "achieved internal unity between Fatah and Hamas" and forged a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, just before midnight Wednesday, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a Grad missile at the coastal city of Ashdod.

At around 10:45 p.m., air sirens in Ashdod and surrounding towns sent residents scurrying to bomb shelters. There were no injuries, but the deafening explosion caused hysteria among some residents.

The Israeli Air Force responded with direct hits on a weapons warehouse and two other sites that are part of the terror infrastructure in Gaza.

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