As his top aides and their Israeli counterparts sat down in Washington for the first direct peace talks in years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that he had not softened his stance on the presence of Israeli settlers and border forces in a future Palestinian state. "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli—civilian or soldier—on our lands," he told reporters while in Cairo to meet Egypt's interim president.
Israel wants to keep its forces along the Jordanian border but Abbas says he will accept only an "international, multinational presence like in Sinai, Lebanon, and Syria," reports Reuters, which notes that his statements are a blow to John Kerry's hopes of keeping terms of the talks he negotiated secret. Abbas, who says Palestinians consider all Israeli settlements within Palestine's pre-1967 borders illegitimate, wants those borders to be the basis for negotiations for a two-state solution and says the only land transfer he is willing to discuss are small areas "equal in size and value." (Read more Mahmoud Abbas stories.)