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Abbas should condition peace talks on lifting Gaza siege

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should respond to Israeli and US pressure to extend peace talks by insisting Israel lifts its siege on the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian girl waits to fill her containers with water from public taps in Beit Lahiya, near the border between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, February 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3FPN6

The stage appears set, if the Palestinian leadership chooses, to reconcile the Gaza Strip with the West Bank and end the unjust siege that has fallen on Gaza for the past seven years.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks scheduled over a period of nine months are due to end in April. Palestinians had agreed in late July 2013 to talks in return for Israel implementing a previous agreement to release 104 prisoners held in Israeli jails before the Oslo Accord. At the same time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to postpone any movements to join international agencies, such as the International Criminal Court, during the period of negotiations.

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