The row over Jewish settlements has dashed any hopes of a breakthrough in today’s three-way summit of Israeli, Palestinian and US leaders.
Host Barack Obama’s call for Israel to halt building had still failed to convince Benjamin Netanyahu as he set off for New York. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s demands for a total freeze before any peace talks resume leaves the Israelis equally cold. “We will follow the lead of President Obama and the American administration and hopefully, hopefully, the Palestinians will do the same and will stop their very bizarre preconditions,” said Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. But among Palestinians even today’s meeting has raised questions. Palestinian Authority press spokesman Ghassan Khatib said: “The Palestinian public and official levels were a little bit disappointed when the American administration arranged for a meeting that will include the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, before succeeding in convincing Israel to fulfil its obligations by stopping the expansion of settlements.” Obama set Middle East peace as a top priority at the start of his presidency in January but so far his administration has made little headway.