JERUSALEM (AFP) - Indirect Middle East peace talks should begin soon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday in the first public comment by an Israeli official on a US initiative. Lieberman made the remarks during a visit to Azerbaijan, when he told President Ilham Aliyev that in his estimation, indirect talks with the Palestinians would begin shortly, the foreign ministry said. Liebermans comments came a day after Palestinian officials said president Mahmud Abbas agreed in principle to indirect talks with Israel under US mediation but requested a number of guarantees. The latest US proposal for renewing peace talks suspended more than a year ago would have the two sides hold three months of indirect negotiations and have Israel make several goodwill gestures to the Palestinians. The Palestinians would continue to require a complete freeze of Israeli settlements before any direct negotiations but not as a precondition to indirect talks. The Palestinians said if accepted, the talks would begin February 20 with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides. The two sides have been at loggerheads for months as Washington has called for the renewal of negotiations that were suspended when Israel launched its three-week Gaza offensive in December 2008. The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table without a complete freeze of Jewish settlement growth in the occupied territories, including east Jerusalem, which they claim as their capital. Meanwhile, Israeli security forces on Tuesday arrested nine Palestinians in a second raid in as many days in a refugee camp in mainly Arab east Jerusalem after youths hurled stones at them. Nine people were arrested after border police and police came under attack from stone throwers, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Several dozen youths could be seen hurling rocks, bottles and paint at security forces for the second consecutive day in the Shuafat refugee camp. The camp is a crowded neighbourhood of dilapidated concrete blocks that house Palestinian refugees and the descendants of those who fled or lost their homes when Israel was created in 1948 or when it captured east Jerusalem with the rest of the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War. Meanwhile, the cash-strapped UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday it needs at least 100 million dollars this year to continue its services for millions of refugees in the Middle East. The fundings are insufficient to meet our needs to continue our services, UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi, who was appointed in January, told reporters in Amman. So in addition to what donors have told us... we need approximately 50 million dollars more to meet the needs of 2010, the minimum needs, he said. I am making a strong appeal to the donors to give us more than this to invest in... all the things that any public service requires to function properly, and that means at least another 50 million dollars if not more. Grandi said that UNRWA has also appealed to donors for an additional 350 million dollars to cover emergency situations such as more humanitarian assistance, food, cash, and job creation. UN sources told AFP that UNRWAs budget for 2010 is estimated at 620 million dollars with a projected deficit of 140 million dollars. The United States said on Thursday it has given an initial 40 million dollars this year to UNRWA, which cares for 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, to support its services in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.