Mitchell and Abbas
Photo: Reuters
Mitchell and Netanyahu
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Palestinians: Zero chances for Abbas-Netanyahu meeting
Following meeting between Abbas-Mitchell meeting, Ramallah sources say without clear Israeli declaration on halt to settlement construction, coveted three-way summit between US, Israeli and Palestinian leaders will not take place

The chances of a three-way summit between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Barak Obama are slim, Ramallah sources said on Friday, after a meeting between Abbas and special American envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell.


Later Friday, Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu for a second time in the same day.


Palestinians said the current Israeli stance is not sufficient to lead to the summit the Americans are so eager to organize during the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.


According to the Palestinian sources, the Israeli side is not willing to publicly and officially announce a halt to construction in settlements.


Abbas told Mitchell on Friday that he will not resume talks without a complete freeze, according to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.


"We once again reiterated that there are no middle ground solutions for settlements," Erekat told reporters. "A settlement freeze is a settlement freeze."


The formula presented by Mitchell for a temporary freeze, without guarantees, is insufficient, the Palestinians said, adding it does not refer to the matter of natural growth and construction in Jerusalem.


The Palestinians further noted that without a clear Israeli position, peace talks will not be restarted, and that such a position has yet to be presented.


Between his two meetings with Mitchell, Netanyahu met with Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to present to the latter the American demands and the compromises Israel may be willing to make regarding construction in settlements. He also wished the rabbi a happy new year on the event of Rosh Hashana.


A meeting of the limited security-political forum that was scheduled to take place was canceled.


Shas Chairman Eli Yishai and the rest of the party's ministers were also present at the meeting, and Rabbi Yosef told Netanyahu Yishai speaks on his behalf. Shas said the rabbi "praised the prime minister for his standing firm in the political arena, and greeted him ahead of the new year."


The Associated Press contributed to this report


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