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Israel and Palestinians step closer to proximity peace talks

US Mideast envoy George Mitchell met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Wednesday and is to meet Friday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinians are skeptical of the indirect or 'proximity' peace talks, as they skirt key issues like borders and Jerusalem.

A handout picture from the Israeli government press office shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting US Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday in Jerusalem. Israel said indirect talks with the Palestinians were doomed to fail, hours before Mitchell was to meet Netanyahu on the stalled Middle East peace process.


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Israelis and Palestinians aren't talking to each other, but they are moving a step closer to the long-awaited proximity talks that finally began Wednesday as US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell met with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Mitchell is to meet Friday with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who is currently in Egypt.

Although this experiment in shuttle diplomacy has been months in the making, there were indications on Wednesday that Palestinians were not convinced they had received a satisfactory answer to the "guarantees" they had requested from Washington in the form of a promise that the Obama administration would somehow compel Israel to move forward. And, given the talks' limited scope, skepticism was riding particularly high.


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