Abbas says no immediate halt to peace talks

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Abbas says no immediate halt to peace talks

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The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has shown more apparent signs of flexibility over the crucial problem of Israeli settlements.

An Arab newspaper quotes him as saying that Palestinians wouldn’t immediately end peace talks even if Israel resumes its partially frozen settlement programme.

The future of the peace process hangs in the balance as Israeli and Palestinian leaders head home after meeting US diplomats in New York.

Israel’s 10-month moratorium on building in the West Bank runs out tonight.

In an interview with al-Hayat, Mahmoud Abbas was asked whether he’d declare an end to the negotiations if the freeze didn’t continue.

He’s quoted as replying no, the matter would be referred back to the Arab League forum.

Yesterday before the UN General Assembly, the Palestinian leader also steered clear of repeating his earlier assertion that his side would pull out.

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said there’s a more-than-even chance the peace process will continue.

The coming days may reveal what real grounds there are for optimism, or whether each side is trying to avoid the blame for failure.