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Israel hands PLO proposal to extend peace talks
Israel hands PLO proposal to extend peace talks
A protester waves a Palestinian flag towards the Israeli border fence during a protest marking Land Day at the border between Israeli and Gaza Strip on March 30, 2014.(AFP/Mohammed Abed)
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JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has handed the PLO a proposal aimed at extending peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline, as efforts to salvage the negotiations came to a head.

The fate of the US-brokered peace process could be decided within days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier, warning that "either the matter will be resolved or it will blow up".

Netanyahu's remarks to ministers from his right-wing Likud party came as US officials were working around the clock to prevent a collapse of the negotiations over a dispute about Palestinian prisoners.

"In any case, there won't be any deal without Israel knowing clearly what it will get in exchange," Netanyahu said.

According to a Palestinian official, Israel presented President Mahmoud Abbas with a draft agreement to push forward with the talks. Abbas was to examine the proposal during the night, he said.

An Israeli official would not provide details on the proposal but told AFP: "Now the Palestinians need to reply if they are willing to continue negotiations."

With the talks teetering on the brink of collapse, Washington has been fighting an uphill battle to coax the two sides into accepting a framework proposal that would extend negotiations beyond April 29.

But the issue has become tied up with the fate of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners whom Israel was to have freed this weekend under the original terms agreed to relaunch talks.

Israel on Friday informed the Palestinians it would not free the prisoners, with the US State Department confirming it was working "intensively" to resolve the dispute.

US officials said Secretary of State John Kerry, in Paris Sunday, spoke with Netanyahu and later told reporters in the French capital that it was not yet appropriate for the US to make any public judgment about the situation "at this important moment".

"It's really a question between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and what Prime Minister Netanyahu is prepared to do," he added.

US State Department sources did not rule out the possibility that Kerry could fly from France to the Middle East if necessary on Monday

Kerry himself said "we'll see where we are tomorrow (Monday) when some judgments have to be made."

source AFP

ALRAY contributed to this