Abbas meets with Jewish community in Paris

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Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas held talks Sunday with influential members of the French-Jewish community in Paris about the Israeli-Palestine peace negotiations, during his visit to France.

At Meurice hotel, Abbas met with 20 well-known figures including philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, journalists Jean-Pierre Elkabbach and Ruth Elkrief, Jewish student union leader Arielle Schwab and president of the Holocaust memorial Eric de Rothschild.

"If Israel does not continue the freeze on settlement building, the peace process will be a waste of time," Abbas told them.

Finkielkraut said he was impressed by the Palestinian leader's sincerity and "the fact that he does not underestimate Hamas violence."

He added that Abbas "spoke to us about his desire for a negotiated deal, of his willingness to pass from a culture of violence to a culture of peace."

"He wants us to understand a bit better the Palestinian position and in this respect, it's progress," Elkabbach said, hailing the "courage" of a man "who risks his skin at every moment."

Earlier, the Palestinian leader announced that the Arab League would meet on October 4 to discuss further action in the fragile negotiations with Israel, once the settlement moratorium in the West Bank expires Sunday night.

© 2010 AFP

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