Palestinian Authority negotiator Nabil Sha'ath said that direct talks
between Israel and the Palestinians are in the hands of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and only he can "neutralize the explosive situation"
by extending the moratorium on West Bank settlement construction, Israel
Radio reported on Sunday.
Sha'ath added that if Netanyahu fails to extend the building freeze and
peace talks subsequently fail, Israel will be held fully responsible.
Palestinians will consider freeze compromise
Netanyahu, Abbas trying to seek common ground
Sha'ath arrived in Paris on Sunday along with Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas as Israelis and Palestinians try to find a
compromise on the issue of the moratorium which was scheduled to end on
Abbas was scheduled to meet with leaders of the French Jewish community
and later with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister
Francois Fillon. Sarkozy was expected to try and convince Abbas not to
leave peace talks with the Israelis.
Abbas denied that Palestinians would turn to violence if talks are
halted by saying "we tried the Intifada and it caused us a great deal of
damage," according to an interview published in London based newspaper Al-Hayat
cited by Army Radio Sunday.
Abbas claimed in the interview that if there is a
breakdown in direct negotiations his people will not start violent
confrontations with Israel.
come after Abbas said on
that no peace
deal is possible unless Israel stops settlement construction, but he did
threaten to walk away from the negotiating table if the settlement
moratorium expires as scheduled on Sunday at midnight.
choose between peace and the continuation of settlements,” Abbas said in
address to the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting.
meanwhile, government sources said that Israel was “open to compromise”
issue, and there were a number of ideas that Jerusalem could live
The sources said that intensive talks on the matter were
in the US, in an effort to keep the issue from derailing the direct
were restarted at the beginning of the month.
One of the ideas
been raised is to extend the freeze for another three months, and set
that as a
deadline by which Israel and the PA must reach an agreement on borders –
Israel would then know exactly where it was free to build.
a variation of the same theme, is to extend the moratorium by another
months, but exclude from this moratorium some 2,000 units for which all
the necessary permits have
been granted and on which building could start immediately.
ideas that have been raised are the following:
• Agree to the number
that can be constructed each year, based on natural growth;
the large settlement blocks in areas adjacent to the existing
but allow only the construction of public buildings needed for natural
all other settlements;
• Agree to gradual construction now, and to
moratorium at the beginning of the year, when the talks move into a more
• Allow housing construction in the largest
Ma’aleh Adumim, Betar Ilit, Modi’in Ilit and Ariel – but construction
buildings only in the rest of the settlements.
Jordana Horn in New York and
AP contributed to this report.