Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris on Wednesday to discuss peace talks with Israel, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.
The official said Abbas would leave for France on Tuesday for the meeting, which he said had been requested by Kerry, who is currently in Abu Dhabi.
The top US diplomat has spent months trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for resolving their decades-old conflict, but the negotiations have shown little sign of progress, with each side blaming the other.
Abbas said on Sunday he was not looking "to flood Israel" with returning Palestinian refugees, at a rare meeting with 250 Israeli students at his West Bank headquarters.
He also said there was no need to "re-divide" Jerusalem in order to have a Palestinian capital in the Arab eastern sector, a central demand of the Palestinians in the peace talks relaunched last year.
"Propaganda says Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nickname] wants to flood Israel with five million refugees to destroy the state of Israel," he told the group at his Muqataa presidential compound in Ramallah.
"All we said is that we should put the refugee file on the table because it is an issue we must solve to end the conflict," he said. “But we will not seek to flood Israel with millions of refugees to change its social character. This is a lie."
Resolving the question of the right of return for Palestinian families who fled or were forced out of their homes during the war that accompanied Israel's independence in 1948 is one of the most bitterly disputed issues in the conflict.
The Palestinians have always demanded that the Jewish state recognise their right of return to homes in modern-day Israel, in keeping with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
But Israel rejects the idea, saying it would erode the country's Jewish majority. It has said, however, that it is prepared for the refugees to live in a future Palestinian state.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-02-17