Palestinian Aide: No Deal on Peace Talks

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President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy was unable Friday to broker an agreement on renewing peace-talks between Israel and Palestine, the chief Palestinian negotiator said.

With wide gaps continuing to exist between the two nations, many are doubtful about Obama's plan to resurrect Middle East peace efforts.

The heart of the dispute revolves around the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and whether peace negotiations should pick up where they left off, the Jerusalem Post reports.

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell held several meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas to smooth the way for resumed peace talks, which broke off at the end of last year.

But Abbas made it clear that Palestine had no intention of resuming talks without a complete halt in settlement expansion, according to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

"We once again reiterated that there are no middle ground solutions for settlements," Erekat told reporters. "A settlement freeze is a settlement freeze."

Israel has thus far been reluctant to capitulate to U.S demands that it stop its construction of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Despite the deadlock between the two nations Kurt Hoyer, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv, says that Mitchell remains optimistic and that mediation would continue.

"We realize that this is a long process, and we're not approaching it with a certain deadline in mind," he said.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas will be attending next week's U.N. General Assembly.

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