Netanyahu, Clinton, Abbas talks.
(photo credit: GPO)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the Palestinians will not continue direct talks if building in the settlements continues, Israel Radio reported.
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In a meeting with PLO figures in Jordan, Abbas demanded an official commitment to renew the building moratorium.
The PA leader reportedly claimed that the Palestinians gave all the guarantees and fulfilled all their commitments, but Israel has not taken one step towards peace.
Several senior Palestinians said the US has proposed the two-month extension of the building moratorium.US working frantically to salvage talks
A US official close to the negotiations said Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems likely to cut a deal to keep the talks going. Palestinian officials said much the same, and Israeli officials said Netanyahu does not want talks to founder.
All spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are closed and no decisions have been made. All the parties have previously said they want to continue negotiations, but the talks remain in limbo.
The White House is working furiously, applying pressure, floating proposals and making promises to both sides, before a Friday gathering of Arab leaders whose backing the Palestinians need in order to go forward.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Wednesday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who represents the "Quartet" of international Mideast peacemakers, to try to find a solution. On Tuesday she spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
"We're at a critical stage in the process," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday.
"We want to see the negotiations continue," he said. "We don't want to see the parties step away from this process, and we continue to offer ideas to both sides as to how to navigate through the settlement issue that currently confronts us."
An Israeli official said Netanyahu was sounding out colleagues on a
proposal to extend the slowdown for 60 days. Four of Israel's seven
cabinet ministers were opposed, the official said. Netanyahu's own
position was not clear.
US officials caution that they do not know exactly what Netanyahu will
do. For some Israeli politicians in his complex governing coalition, the
collapse of talks, and an opportunity to blame both the United States
and the Palestinians for it, would be a welcome outcome.Compromise on Jordan Valley security forces
A former US official with knowledge of the secretive American
proposals now before Netanyahu said they are extremely vague,
particularly about the composition of a security force in the Jordan
Valley after a peace deal is signed.
The former official said the U.S. has proposed to "recognize Israel's
security concerns and needs in the Jordan Valley as they exist today."
The official said the proposal stops well short of endorsing an Israel
Army presence there.
The language could be used, however, to signal that the United States
would not object to international peacekeepers in the Jordan Valley,
possibly with Israeli participation.
Abbas, however, said at the PLO meeting that he is against the proposal
that Israel maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley after a peace
agreement, Israel Radio reported.
Yasser Abed-Rabo, a chief PLO official, said at the meeting that the
whole world understands that there will be no peace talks if Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues his current policies.