Stalling? President Abbas
Photo: AFP

Concern: Abbas stalling talks until after freeze

Israeli officials estimate Palestinian president shunning negotiations until after settlement construction freeze deadline, in order to demand freeze extension as precondition for talks

Senior officials in Jerusalem expressed concern that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to stall direct talks until the construction freeze in the settlements expires on September 26, after which he will refuse to negotiate with Israel.


Meanwhile, Jerusalem is still waiting for an official announcement from the international Quartet, who is expected to urge both sides to renew direct talks.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in direct talks, but at the same time is unwilling to agree to preconditions, even those made by the international community.


Top Israeli officials are also concerned over the Quartet's intention to set a two year date on which the sides would agree on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and the possibility of land exchange.


On previous meetings with the US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, Netanyahu rejected similar demands, and made clear to Abbas that he considers those as preconditions.


Netanyahu, who is calling to renew direct talks without delay, isn't ruling out the possibility that the Palestinian president is trying to stall negotiations as much as possible – until after the expiration date of the construction freeze in the settlements.


According to estimates, Netanyahu will not accept any demands made by the Palestinian Authority to extend the freeze as a precondition for holding direct talks. Netanyahu also firmly objects offering Palestinians additional gestures on top of those already given by his administration.


Meanwhile, Israeli officials are in constant contact with representatives of the Quartet and the moderate Arab states in order to reach an agreement over the initiation of direct talks – but Israeli officials are unsure whether these will actually happen in the near future.


"It is all up to Abbas," said sources in Jerusalem, "He has to understand that there is no other way, but direct negotiations without preconditions."



פרסום ראשון: 08.15.10, 08:28
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