Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Abbas hints at settlement compromise - draws back threat of quitting the talks

(Haaretz).Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has signaled that a renewal of settlement construction in the West Bank would not necessarily end peace talks, attendees at a dinner with the Palestinians leader in New York told Haaretzץ

According to a transcript of the event in New York, the Palestinian president said: "I can't say I will leave the negotiations, but it will be very difficult to continue if Netanyahu will announce that he will start building."

Speaking to a closed meeting of Jewish American leaders in New York late Tuesday, Abbas made clear that he wanted to continue the dialogue with Israel and signaled that he was backing away from his ultimatum, but he also urged Israel to extend the building restrictions for several months while the sides negotiate the final borders between Israel and a future Palestine.

"Let's demarcate the border now in a short time so that the Israelis can build on their side of the border, at that time, Israelis will be free to build in their territory and the Palestinians the same."

Some 50 leaders of Jewish American organizations as well as former diplomats and policymakers attended the meeting with Abbas, who was in New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations. The two-hour gathering was sponsored by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.