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Settlement deadline threatens Middle East talks

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Settlement deadline threatens Middle East talks


Talk of compromise is in the air with the future of the Middle East peace process at stake.

Intense diplomatic activity is underway to try to save the US-sponsored negotiations. They are threatened by Sunday’s expiry of Israel’s partial halt in settlement building.

Unless the freeze is extended, the Americans fear Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will carry out his threat to quit the talks, less than a month after they were launched.

The 10-month long moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank was announced last November by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has resisted pressure to renew it.

But as Israeli peace activists symbolically stood motionless or ‘frozen’ in Tel Aviv, to support an ongoing settlement freeze, there were signs of goodwill on both sides.

An Israeli government official indicated willingness to find a compromise. And Mahmoud Abbas agreed to a fresh meeting today with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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