The Middle East peace talks hang in the balance this morning following the end of Israel’s settlement freeze.
The government has done nothing to extend it, a demand made by both Palestinians and the direct talks’ American sponsors, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to continue.
“There is only one choice for Israel: either peace or settlements. If it’s peace, then it is through talks. If Israel doesn’t choose this, it will be a waste of time, a waste of opportunities,” said Abbas.
The direct talks began in September with Abbas’s warning if the settlement freeze was not extended past Sunday he would walk away. Netanyahu called on Abbas to continue “honest” talks to achieve an “historic” deal minutes after the freeze expired, and also called on settlers to show “restraint”, but they were building as he spoke.
His coalition contains several pro-settler parties, and Abbas could face a backlash if he agrees to continue without the concession. With both men at risk of being outflanked by radicals, it is hard to see how the talks can continue.