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Monday Aug. 16, 2010 6:54 PM (EST+7)
Settlement freeze threatens direct talks

Read more: settlements, settlement freeze, 10-month settlement moratorium, direct talks

RAMALLAH, Aug 16 (JMCC) - Direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians may be off the table before they are actually on if Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction comes to an end in September.

Palestinians have said that a settlement freeze remains a condition for their participation in direct talks with Israel. It has been reported that the Israeli cabinet dismissed any preconditions on talks, including the outcome of the settlement freeze.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner cabinet reportedly met this weekend to discuss a possible continuation of a 10-month Israeli freeze  due to expire on Sept. 26. Palestinians have criticized that freeze as inadequate, because it did not include East Jerusalem, although it became clear this spring that a de facto freeze had been implemented.

Mr. Netanyahu has said that continuing the freeze would be politically impossible, causing his coalition to fall apart. Many settlers in the West Bank either opposed the freeze outright, or accepted it as a necessary evil. But an extension could erode any support Netanyahu and his right-wing allies retain from those constituents.

If the moratorium is extended, “there might be an explosion,” says a young yeshiva student in Beit El, where Israeli security forces recently destroyed a small shack built by young protesters, resulting in a violent clash that injured 30. “The state is investing more effort in destroying housing than it is in fighting Hamas.”

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor...






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