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All eyes on Abbas as settlement freeze expires

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All eyes on Abbas as settlement freeze expires

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to do all he can to make Middle East peace talks succeed. But with Israel’s partial freeze on settlement building expiring today, Abbas could yet carry out his threat to quit negotiations.

He told the UN General Assembly in New York: “Our demands for the cessation of settlement activities, the lifting of the blockade of Gaza and putting an end to illegal Israeli policies and practices do not constitute preconditions that are alien to the peace process, rather they are consistent with the implementation of obligations and commitments that have been agreed and reaffirmed by all resolutions adopted since the very start of the political process.”

Today’s deadline marks the end of a ten month long freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. In the past, Abbas has said that unless it is extended he will walk out of the newly- reconvened direct talks.

Another sticking point, Israel’s security barrier, was the cause of the region’s latest violence in the West Bank village of Beit Umar. Palestinians say the wall grabs land they want for a future state.