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Originally published July 21, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Page modified July 22, 2013 at 2:46 AM

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Abbas aide: Path to Mideast talks still blocked

The path to formal negotiations with Israel is still blocked despite a U.S. suggestion that the sides are close to returning to the table, a senior Palestinian official said in another sign of skepticism that peace talks will resume.

The Associated Press

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JERUSALEM —

The path to formal negotiations with Israel is still blocked despite a U.S. suggestion that the sides are close to returning to the table, a senior Palestinian official said in another sign of skepticism that peace talks will resume.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement late Sunday that for actual peace talks to resume, Israel must first accept its pre-1967 war frontier as a baseline and halt settlement building, demands Israel's leader has rejected in the past. The Palestinians seek a state in the lands Israel captured in 1967.

He said that Abbas agreed to send a delegate to Washington to continue lower-level preliminary talks with an Israeli counterpart about the terms for negotiations. The Washington talks are meant to "overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way of launching negotiations," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced this weekend that an agreement has been reached that establishes the basis for resuming peace talks that collapsed about five years ago.

Gaps remain on three issues Palestinians say need to be settled before talks can begin - the baseline for border talks, the extent of a possible Israeli settlement slowdown and a timetable for releasing long-detained Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War. Abbas seeks a commitment from Netanyahu that Israel's pre-1967 border will serve as a baseline for negotiations.

Israel has been insisting that that peace talks resume without preconditions and that all issues like settlements and security should be resolved through dialogue.

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