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Palestinian Territories

Palestinian leaders to vote on Kerry's Israel-peace plan

Palestinian leaders plan to vote on a US proposal to renew peace talks with Israel. Returning to the pre-1967 borders was reportedly one of the conditions. Israel has issued mixed responses to the plan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was due to begin meeting with Palestinian leaders Thursday afternoon to discuss the possibility of entering negotiations with the Israeli government, according to officials. They were then scheduled to vote on the new terms of peace talks as outlined by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The new conditions would include returning to the pre-1967 borders and agreeing to a land swap in order to create two states, according to initial reports, which did not provide further detail.

Kerry proposed the idea yesterday during a visit with Abbas and the Arab League in Jordan. He is currently on his sixth visit to the region since March.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Arab League characterized Kerry's plan as providing "a good ground and a suitable environment for restarting the negotiations, especially the new and important political, economic and security elements."

Negotiations came to a halt in 2010 over Israel's refusal to halt settlement development in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has since gained non-member observer status from the United Nations, giving it more power in the international community to dispute Israeli territorial claims.

As a pre-condition to further talks, Palestinian leaders have demanded Israel agree to freeze construction of settlements and to return land it acquired in 1967. Israel has refused to agree to pre-conditions to enter into peace talks and has continued approving settlement plans, despite international condemnation.

Netanyahu denies open to border plan

The "very wide" and "very significant" gaps between Palestine and Israel, which John Kerry has mentioned during his tour, were reflected clearly on Thursday, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the news of the proposal.

An Israeli official speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Reuters news agency said Israeli leaders had agreed to the terms of the proposal, including to the pre-1967 border formula.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuted this claim soon after. He has repeatedly said surrendering the territory would pose a threat to Israel's national security.

"The report is untrue," the prime minister's spokesperson Mark Regev told Reuters in a statement on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear whether Israeli leaders have also convened to discuss their reactions to Kerry's proposal.

kms/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)