The Palestinian President has said he will not rush a decision on whether to abandon the Middle East peace talks after Israel allowed the West Bank settlement moratorium to expire.
Mahmoud Abbas had previously said he would walk away from the negotiating table if construction resumed. On Monday, as the freeze ended, he was visiting Nicolas Sarkozy, who has invited Abbas back to Paris for more face to face negotiations with Netanyahu next month. The next round of direct talks has yet to be scheduled by negotiating teams.
In a sign that there is still time for mediators to overcome the settlements issue, Abbas said he would consult the Arab League before making a final decision on or after October 4.
He added that he would have liked to have seen the building freeze continued for another three or four months to help the negotiations.
The White House has expressed disappointment at Israel’s decision to discontinue the building freeze. That sentiment is shared in Europe. Sarkozy told the press conference:
“We regret that the unanimous calls to prolong Israel’s moratorium on settlement building were not heeded. I deplore that.”
The end of the moratorium puts the ball back into the Palestinians’ court and the pressure back onto Abbas. Analysts say he may be forced into making concessions while also trying not to lose face.
Abbas 'won't rush' decision on peace talks