Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke off Friday with the Palestinians speaking of a deep crisis in efforts to reach a framework deal to end their decades-old conflict.
"There is a real and deep crisis on all the issues of the framework and the third redeployment," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP, declining to elaborate.
He was speaking after about two hours of talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in this Red Sea resort town mediated by US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross.
The latest round of negotiations began on Sunday but have run into trouble over a variety of issues, including an Israeli map outlining its vision for the shape of a future Palestinian entity and plans to expand a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Ross himself has expressed doubt that the two sides will reach a draft peace deal by a mid-May deadline on the core issues including the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees as well as borders and settlements.
The Palestinians say a third Israeli troop withdrawal outlined under the 1993 Oslo peace accord and now due to take place in June should leave them with control over some 90 percent of the occupied territories.
The talks are expected to resume on Sunday after a break for the Muslim and Jewish days of rest.
Ross meanwhile would be meeting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat late Friday, Palestinian sources said in Gaza.
The meeting, to be held in the West Bank city of Ramallah at 1900 GMT, comes a day after Ross met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak over the troubled peace process.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright might come to the region in the near future to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat and learn firsthand of the progress in the latest round of peace talks, Ross said yesterday.
"At a certain point, I would expect the Secretary of State to come out here and at a certain point, she would make a judgment as to when it would be appropriate to bring the leaders together with President Bill Clinton," Ross said – (Several Sources)
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