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Friday July 30, 2010 9:17 AM (EST+7)
Abbas likely to hold direct talks with Israel, say diplomats

Read more: Palestinian Authority, US Foreign Policy, Palestinian - US relations, US - Palestinian relations, direct talks, peace process

RAMALLAH, July 30 (JMCC) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to agree to holding direct peace talks within weeks say western officials. In what could be the gamble of his political career Abbas may bow to US pressure and begin in face-to-face negotiations. This comes despite Abbas’ public insistence that direct peace talks cannot commence until Israel meets a set of well defined demands.

Any resumption of direct talks after over 18 months of stalemate would hand US President Barack Obama a much needed foreign policy success ahead of midterm elections in the United States this November.

His administration has embarked on a frantic campaign to escalate the pressure on Mr Abbas to yield before a partial Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expires in late September.

Fearing a backlash among his people, the Palestinian leader has thus far remained resolute in public. Regarded by some as too malleable towards Israel, Abbas needs to convince his public that he will not damage Palestinian interests.

But western officials, as well as a number of independent observers, believe Mr Abbas will reverse his opposition to direct negotiations in early September.
What Abbas is saying in public is not necessarily what he is saying in private, a European diplomat said. He is navigating unbelievably treacherous waters and is trying to find a way out that will save face.

The optimists were given a boost yesterday when Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo gave their tentative backing for direct talks.

Although their statement was vaguely worded and couched with caveats – one official at the talks described it as a yellow light that needs some work before it becomes a green light – some observers saw it as a statement of intent indicating that Mr Abbas would yield.

Read more at The Telegraph…







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