Egypt’s intel chief in Israel to discuss stalled peace talks

Jerusalem–Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu was on Thursday to meet Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Tel Aviv for talks expected to focus on the deadlocked peace talks, a government source said.

“He will meet Omar Suleiman in Tel Aviv during the afternoon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity, without giving further details.

The two were expected to discuss moves to reinvigorate peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which have been in deep freeze since the end of September following the end of a temporary ban on West Bank settlement construction.

Egypt's official MENA news agency confirmed the visit and said Suleiman would besides Netanyahu also meet with President Shimon Peres and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

The visit, MENA said, is aimed at “trying to find a solution to the question of settlement construction in order to end the impasse in the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.”Last week, Suleiman visited the West Bank with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit for talks with Mahmud Abbas.

The Egyptians reiterated Arab support for the Palestinian leader's demand that Israel reimpose the moratorium before talks can be restarted.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians began on September 2 but lasted for barely three weeks before shuddering to a halt over the settlement issue.

Last month, Arab foreign ministers said they would give Washington until early November to find a way out of the impasse, but there has been little sign of progress. The ministers are expected to meet in the coming weeks to decide on a response to the stalled talks.

The Palestinians view the presence of 500,000 Israelis in more than 120 settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, as a major obstacle to the establishment of their promised state.

Israel has so far refused to renew the moratorium and insisted the thorny issue of Jewish settlements be resolved as part of a final peace deal.

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