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Palestinian, Israeli Negotiators Meet in Jordan at Deadline

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Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Palestinian and Israeli officials held talks in Amman, Jordan, on the eve of a deadline set by international mediators to work out the details for renewed peace negotiations.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed pessimism about the prospects of accomplishing anything in the evening talks between his chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat, and Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho.

The diplomatic group known as the Quartet has asked Israeli and Palestinian leaders to come up with proposals before tomorrow for security arrangements and final borders that would pave the way for formal negotiations, which have been frozen since September 2010. The Quartet is made up of representatives from the EU, the United Nations, the U.S. and Russia.

“If we demarcate the borders, we can return to negotiations, but Israel does not want to do that,” Abbas said after talks in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The two sides previously met at least four times in the past month and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped the preliminary talks that began at 7 p.m. would be extended.

“We are trying to make sure that our talks with the Palestinians will continue,” Netanyahu told European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton at the beginning of a meeting at his office in Jerusalem, the prime minister’s office said in a text message.

Jewish Settlements

The EU’s chief diplomat also met in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Hanan Ashrawi, an adviser to Abbas, who expressed disappointment with the talks and said Israel was to blame because of its continued building in Jewish settlements.

“Negotiations so far have proven to be futile precisely because of these illegal acts and any return to negotiations require a total cessation of these violations,” Ashrawi told Ashton, according to a statement e-mailed from her office.

Ashton visited the Gaza Strip earlier in the day to announce a 55.4 million-euro ($72.2 million) grant for the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees, according to an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net; Fadwa Hodali in Jerusalem at fhodali@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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