'Abbas willing to accept secret settlement freeze'

PA president may soften demands over West Bank construction as precondition to negotiations, 'New York Times' reports.

US President Obama with PA President Abbas 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
US President Obama with PA President Abbas 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may soften his demands that Israel halts constructions of settlements in the West Bank as a precondition for peace negotiations, the New York Times reported on Wednesday overnight.
The shift in Abbas's stance was laid out in a draft of talking points prepared for the PA president for his meeting with US President Barack Obama in Ramallah on Thursday.
According to the document obtained by the Times, Abbas will tell Obama that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can privately promise to freeze construction, and will not have to announce it publicly.
Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel
Another talking point will have Abbas ask the American president to persuade Netanyahu to agree to use the 1967 borders as a starting point for the peace negotiations.
Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected Israeli return to the 1967 lines, and adamantly insisted that he will not accept a halting of settlement constructions as a precondition for negotiations.
In an additional talking point, Abbas will reassure the US president that the PA does not intend to use its new UN status to take Israel to the International Criminal Court in Hague, unless Israel begins construction in E1.
The talking points were reportedly written by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat's assistant.