Dec 18, 3:07 PM EST

Palestinian leader supports more talks on UN bid

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he supports further negotiations on a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that sets a 2017 deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from war-won lands the Palestinians seek for their state.

His comments indicated that he is trying to avoid a clash with Washington at the council.

The Arab-backed draft, submitted by Jordan on Wednesday, sets aside one year for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and two more years for implementing a deal. The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

The resolution is unlikely to face an immediate vote, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.

Abbas said Thursday that "we will continue in our consultations with the brothers and friends through deliberations, which will take place in the United Nations."

Earlier, Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the resolution does not close the door on further negotiations on the issue, including with the United States. As a permanent council member, U.S. has often vetoed measures targeting Israel.

Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said the draft would take time to complete, but Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said they were hoping consultations would not drag on long.

In Prague, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he believed the vote will be postponed and that the majority of the Security Council members "understand that this resolution is very, very counterproductive."

As Abbas spoke in the West Bank city of Ramallah, thousands of members of his Fatah party demonstrated against him in the Gaza Strip.

The protesters were supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah strongman in Gaza whom Abbas fired in a power struggle.

The rally was approved by Gaza's militant Hamas group - a rival of Fatah - in an apparent effort to keep up the pressure on Abbas in the coastal territory.


Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

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