RAMALLAH Feb. 8 (JMCC) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not back down on demands that Israel impose a complete moratorium on settlement construction before a return to talks.
SPIEGEL: But now Obama is only talking about Israeli restraint in building settlements. At his request, you even agreed to a symbolic handshake with Netanyahu in New York.
Abbas: I was initially very optimistic after Obama won the election. His Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, kept coming to us and promised to urge the Israelis to stop settlement construction completely. Mitchell said that the negotiations would only resume after a moratorium. The American government suddenly backed away from this position in September.
SPIEGEL: Are you saying that it's the Americans' fault that things aren't progressing?
Abbas: Naturally, I'm not pleased with the Americans' change of course. But I will not back down.
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