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Erakat Asks EU to Recognize Palestinian State Alongside Israel

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat formally asked the European Union in a letter to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Erakat wrote a letter to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, asking that the body recognize “two states along the 1967 borders and to oblige the Israeli government to completely halt settlement activity, including in east Jerusalem,” he said today in a phone interview.

The letter follows U.S. acknowledgment last week that it has abandoned efforts to get Israel to renew a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not hold further talks with Israel without such a freeze.

The Obama administration said it will focus instead on getting the two sides to discuss the core issues of their conflict, including the borders of a future Palestinian state, water resources and the status of Jerusalem.

U.S. envoy George Mitchell flew to Israel today for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss future peace efforts.

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