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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Abbas: Plan Is 'Historic' Chance

JERUSALEM -- Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Israel should drop its reservations to the U.S.-backed "road map" for peace and embrace the plan as a historic opportunity to end bloodshed.

Abbas said his next round of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would probably take place Thursday. Their meeting would lay the groundwork for a three-way summit with U.S. President George W. Bush next week.

"This is a historic opportunity to return to a track of normalcy," said Abbas, known as Abu Mazen. The plan would establish a Palestinian state by 2005. The Palestinians embraced it immediately. Israel followed suit only after Washington agreed to address its reservations.

The Israeli army said it demolished the homes of two suicide bombers and arrested 16 militants. Abbas said such actions hinder efforts to end violence.

"It is impossible to achieve 100 percent success in a brief period. It is important that the Palestinians see change on the ground," Abbas said.

On Tuesday, Sharon clarified a comment that caused a stir a day before -- referring to Israeli "occupation" in the West Bank for the first time, a term often used by Palestinians, The Associated Press reported.

Sharon said he was referring to Palestinians in "disputed" territories -- differentiating between the people and the territory, and underlining his policy that Israel retain parts of the West Bank.

"We are not occupiers," he said. "This is the homeland of Jewish people."