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Mideast talks in tatters as peace deadline expires

US Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he boards a plane from Paris on March 31, 2014 for a trip to the Middle East to work on talks about the Middle East peace processWashington’s deadline for reaching a peace deal expired Tuesday with the sides bitterly divided and warnings that Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state” if it failed to make peace with the Palestinians. As final date for the nine-month negotiation period arrived, peace hopes appeared more remote than ever with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas locked in a tactical game of fingerpointing, and US attempts to broker an extension in tatters. After more than a year of intensive shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry who had initially hoped for a deal by April 29, Washington’s was reluctant to admit failure, acknowledging only a “pause” in the dialogue. But Israel and the Palestinians were under no illusions about the fate of the latest US-led peace effort, with analysts saying it was a case of back to square one.

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