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Monday Aug. 23, 2010 9:40 AM (EST+7)
Report: Abbas warns diplomats on need for settlement freeze extension

Read more: settlements, settlers, colonization, colonies, direct talks, peace process, negotiations, Palestine Liberation Organization, PLO, Mahmoud Abbas

RAMALLAH, August 23 (JMCC) - Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has sent letters to three foreign leaders warning them that if Israel does not extend its settlement freeze page September 26 when it is set to expire, direct negotiations are in jeopardy.

The letters, reported Haaretz, were sent to US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton.

Palestinians and Israelis announced this week plans to move from indirect negotiations through US envoy George Mitchell to face-to-face talks. The negotiations will start in Washington on September 2.

However, Abbas was only able to get agreement for the talks for 30 days from the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, reports al-Quds newspaper. Palestinians are waiting to see what Israel will do when a moratorium on some settlement building expires on September 26. While they hope to see the freeze extended, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition partners are threatening to bolt the government if he does so.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that although the American administration did not commit to the Palestinian Authority that the construction freeze would be renewed after the September deadline, the Palestinians expected the freeze to continue. Erekat said that the Americans implied to the PA that if direct negotiations would restart, it would be easier to convince Israel to extend the construction freeze.

Read more from Haaretz...







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