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Kerry cancels scheduled meeting with Abbas in Ramallah

US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled a scheduled meeting due to take place this evening with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; sources in the Palestinian president's office reported.

The Palestinian president invited the media to cover Kerry's visit to Ramallah but after waiting for nearly two hours, the media were told that Kerry cancelled his scheduled meeting and asked them to leave. The Palestinian official gave no further details on why Kerry cancelled his planned meeting or if another meeting will be held at a later date.

The Israeli media claimed that Kerry cancelled his meeting with the Palestinian president because his meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in West Jerusalem exceeded its anticipated time and lasted four hours leaving little time for his second meeting in Ramallah.

Kerry arrived yesterday to Israel in a visit described by the Israeli media as a bid to save the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

The Israeli spokesperson to the Arab media Ofir Gendelman said via Twitter that after his arrival, Kerry met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The Executive Committees of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Fatah movement met yesterday to discuss the developments in the negotiations with Israel and Israel's attempts to avoid its commitment to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners.

A senior member of the PLO, Wasel Abu Yusuf said the Palestinian leadership decided unanimously that if Israel insisted on refusing to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners the PLO would join international organisations and sign international conventions.

Israel had agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners detained prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in four batches. In return, Palestinians would halt efforts to join the United Nations organisations especially the International Court of Justice in The Hague after Palestine won non-member observer status in 2012.

Israel has so far released three groups of prisoners but refuses to release the fourth batch which include Arab citizens of Israel.

The two sides resumed negotiations in July under American auspices in the hope of reaching a peace agreement within nine months, the deadline for which is April 29. While Israel and the United States want to extend negotiations for a year, the Palestinian Authority demands Israel freeze settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory but Netanyahu's government refuses.

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