Palestinian leader supports further talks on draft UN resolution

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he supports further negotiations over a draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands that was submitted to the U.N. Security Council for a possible vote.

The Palestinians have been pressing for some sort of action in the U.N.'s most powerful body. Council member Jordan sponsored the resolution Wednesday, after a day of talks among Arab states. The resolution calls for Israeli forces to be withdrawn by the end of 2017 from territories captured during the 1967 War.

The resolution "comes in the context of our political battle to liberate the land and end the occupation of the Palestinian state," Abbas told a Palestinian leadership meeting.

"We will continue in our consultations with the brothers and friends through deliberations, which will take place in the United Nations," he added.

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. The U.S., as a permanent council member, often has vetoed measures targeting Israel.

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. They carried pro-Dahlan posters and lambasted Abbas for alleged corruption and supposed servility in the face of the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

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.

Also on Thursday, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, condemned violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his annual Christmas message.

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

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