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Monday Sept. 13, 2010 6:52 PM (EST+7)
Settlement freeze expiration date looms as the peace talks resume

Read more: peace process, direct talks, Benjamin Netanyahu, US, United States, Quartet, Mahmoud Abbas, Arab League

RAMALLAH, September 13 (JMCC) - The Middle East peace talks are set to resume this week to the backdrop of the dead sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Under the guidance of Hilary Clinton, US special envoy George Mitchell will meet with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Clinton says that this round of talks may be the last chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. As September 26th, the expiration date on Israel’s partial moratorium on settlement building approaches, there are growing tensions between all the parties.

They are scheduled to move to Jerusalem for a second day of talks on Wednesday, and it is likely that Barack Obama will resume negotiations with Abbas and Netanyahu in New York next week at the UN general assembly.

The Palestinians have warned that a renewal of Israeli construction would spell the end of the talks, which resumed recently after a 20-month hiatus. But Netanyahu said yesterday that the current building restrictions, which are due to expire in two weeks, would not remain in place, although there will still be some limits on construction.

Netanyahu told the Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia, that a total freeze in construction will not happen. Israel will not build tens of thousands of housing units that are in the pipeline, but we will not freeze the lives of the residents, he said.

Israeli leaders have refused to meet five senior European foreign ministers, including the British foreign secretary, William Hague, in Jerusalem this week, reportedly over fears they would add to pressure to extend the freeze.

Obama said on Friday that he had urged Netanyahu to extend the partial moratorium as long as talks were making progress. He also said he had told Abbas that if he showed he was serious about negotiating, it would give Netanyahu room for manoeuvre on the settlement issue. Abbas knew the window for creating a Palestinian state is closing, Obama said.

Read more at The Guardian…






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