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Palestinians call on America to salvage peace negotiations

The top Palestinian peace negotiator urged US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday to salvage American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that both sides say are faltering.

Sixteen Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since negotiations began in July and Palestinian officials say the sides remain far apart on the central issues of borders, security, Jerusalem's status and Palestinian refugees.

"Mr. Kerry must work to save the talks, to work to stop the deterioration of the talks caused by Israel's continuing settlement activity and crimes committed in cold blood," Saeb Erekat told Palestinian radio.

For its part, Israel has accused Palestinian leaders of engaging in anti-Israel incitement and hampering talks by refusing to recognise the country as a "Jewish state."

Palestinians have objected to continued Jewish settlement expansion on occupied land they want as part of a future state.

Kerry is scheduled to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday to try and set right peace talks.

He and many of the analysts say may be the last chance to achieve a "two-state solution" for the two peoples.

An Israeli newspaper report yesterday said that 2,000 hectares of West Bank land that is privately owned by Palestinians, but is in areas where Israel exercises military and civilian control, will be given to Palestinians in the next 90 days for agriculture and commerce.

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