Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the Palestinians will not return to the negotiating table should the renewed construction freeze not include east Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Shas is demanding written assurances from the US on the exact same issue.
Prior to meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Abbas told reporters that the Palestinians have yet to receive an official US invitation to renewed talks which commenced in September and were halted three weeks later following the Netanyahu administration's refusal to freeze construction in the settlements.
Asked whether direct talks will resume should the moratorium not include east Jerusalem Abbas said: "Obviously if the settlement construction freeze will not be complete and include east Jerusalem we shall not accept it."
Meanwhile, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is awaiting a written US assurances paper regarding Jerusalem construction. Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai stated at Sunday's cabinet meeting that until there is a final paper Rabbi Yosef will not permit Likud ministers to avoid voting on the plan. "As of now we oppose an additional freeze," Yishai stressed.
Shas is the deciding factor in the government's decision whether to accept the freeze proposal.
"Rabbi Ovadia wants to see things clearly and only then will he make a decision," Yishai said.
"The rabbi asked for a US guarantee there will be no freeze in Jerusalem and that there will not be an additional freeze after three months. All Israeli administrations built in Jerusalem, even the left-wing governments did not stop for one second," he added.
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