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Sunday Sept. 19, 2010 6:06 PM (EST+7)
Top Palestinian, Israeli officials head to US over settlements

Read more: peace talks, direct talks, negotiations, peace process, United States, settlement freeze, settlement moratorium

RAMALLAH, Sept. 19 (JMCC) - Top Palestinian and Israeli officials flew to Washington on Sunday in an attempt to break the deadlock over the looming expiration of Israel's ten-month settlement freeze, according to the AFP.

The issue has reportedly reached the point of crisis as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly threatened to leave negotiations if Israel does not extend the freeze.

...Israeli President Shimon Peres left shortly after midnight on a four-day visit to coincide with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, and a few hours later Defence Minister Ehud Barak set off for talks in Washington.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, currently in Amman, was also to fly to New York on Sunday evening for the annual sitting, with efforts under way to arrange a meeting with US President Barack Obama, a senior Palestinian official told AFP.

There are also preparations for a meeting between (Israeli premier Benjamin) Netanyahu, Obama and Abbas, he said. There is an expectation that they will meet.

Netanyahu's office said he had no plans to fly to the United States this week, and would not say whether he would meet Abbas before the settlements freeze expires later this month.

Israel and the Palestinians began long-awaited peace negotiations earlier this month, but the talks may well collapse if the two sides fail to resolve a bitter dispute over an Israeli freeze on settlement construction.

So far, Israel has stubbornly refused to extend the partial 10-month moratorium on new construction. The Palestinians have vowed to pull out of the talks if the building resumes.

Addressing ministers of his right-wing Likud party after Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu once again laid out Israel's position: that the moratorium will end as planned...

Read more at the AFP...






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