Hardline Jewish groups in Israel have criticised American attempts to kick start Middle East peace talks with the Palestinians.
Protesting outside the US consulate in Jerusalem, they called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to cave into demands to extend a freeze on settlements beyond September.
Israeli politician Arieh Eldad said: ‘‘Netanyahu, you don’t have a mandate to capitulate to Obama’s pressure. President Obama, if you will put too much pressure on Netanyahu he may break but he won’t provide you with the goods. He cannot continue the freeze. If he will do that, he will lose his government.’‘
In Gaza, Palestinian group Hamas also urged President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement to reject negotiations with Israel.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: ‘‘We call on the Fatah movement not to accept these diktats and we consider any response to this call a national crime that will provide cover for the occupation to continue their settlement activity and the theft of Palestinian land.’‘
For the moment, the Palestinian authority has said Israeli settlement expansion must cease altogether in order for direct talks to begin.