'Obama to Abbas: Don't go to ICC over settlements'

'Asharq al-Awsat' reports Abbas agrees to forgo legal action against Israel for 2 months; $500 million in US aid released to PA.

Obama and Abbas 2 (photo credit:  REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Obama and Abbas 2
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
US President Barack Obama asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to Israel and the West Bank not to take action against Israel at the International Criminal Court for any reason, including settlement construction, London-based Arab daily Asharq al- Awsat reported on Saturday, citing Palestinian sources.
The PA has hinted on numerous occasions since it gained recognition as a non-member observer state at the UN in November that it was considering complaining to the ICC against Israel for approving construction of new housing in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
According to Asharq al-Awsat, Abbas told Obama that he would wait two months before taking any action at the ICC in hopes that the US could convince Israel to freeze settlement construction as a precondition for relaunching peace talks. He added, however, that should Israel follow through on plans to build in the E1 corridor in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, he would turn to the ICC immediately.
Palestinians contend that Israeli building in E1 would separate east Jerusalem from the West Bank, damaging the prospects for the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Following the Palestinians’ successful bid for recognition as non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last year, Israel approved zoning and planning in E1. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu clarified at the time that the government had not actually approved any construction in E1, seemingly signaling to the Palestinians that any further unilateral actions at the UN would indeed be answered with Israeli building in the area.