Palestinian officials have said Wednesday’s killing has undermined the peace efforts – but the issue of building Jewish settlements in the West Bank could cause them to collapse completely.
Israel was persuaded to put construction in the West Bank on hold ten months ago to help get both sides talking again.
On Sunday, that freeze comes to an end, and there are many Israelis who want the work to re-start.
The Mayor of Ariel settlement in the West Bank, Ron Nachman said: “The true meaning, the real meaning of the freeze: it’s the freezing of people’s lives.”
Around half a million Israelis live in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem, a legacy of the Six-Day war in 1967.
The Chief Political Columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Akiva Eldar said: “Ariel Sharon, as Minister of Agriculture back in ’77 and the Chairman of the Settlements Committee had a vision of creating irreversible facts on the ground. He told me in a discussion when he took me to the territories to show me the area that the idea was to just distribute settlements and cut (sic) roads everywhere, to make sure nobody in the future would be able to draw a line.”
The Palestinian president said he would withdraw from the talks unless Israel extends the freeze.
Israel’s prime minister has said it cannot be extended. He has only indicated that the scope of any future building could be limited.