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Palestinian official: Human rights problems prevent direct talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Human rights issues an obstacle to direct talks, Palestinian official says
  • Official lambastes Israeli raid on aid flotilla
  • U.S. envoy urged to push Israel into "more serious engagements"

(CNN) -- There are no direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians because of "continuous Israeli violations of human rights," a Palestinian government spokesman said.

Ghassan Al-Khateeb noted that indirect peace talks with the United States engaging separately with Israel and the Palestinians are occurring. But he asserted that Israeli human rights violations through settlement expansion or other issues "will further defer the possibilities of moving into direct negotiations."

Al-Khateeb, who deplored Israel's deadly raid on the aid flotilla, criticized Israel's blockade of Gaza.

"If there was no siege, if Israel listened to the requests to almost every single country in the world including the United Nations and lifted the siege, we could have avoid these sacrifices," he said, referring to the nine deaths on one of the flotilla ships.

The indirect talks are being spearheaded by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's point man in the Middle East.

"We hope that Sen. Mitchell will succeed in convincing Israel to show some more serious engagements in the current efforts that he is undertaking and that would require an Israeli adherence to the stipulations of the 'road map,' which starts by asking Israel to refrain from all kind of illegal Jewish settlement expansion in the Palestinian territories in addition to agreeing to engage in serious way on final status issues," he said, a referring to Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements.