Palestinian president leaves door open to continuing peace negotiations even if Israel resumes settlement construction
The Palestinian president has left the door open to continuing peace negotiations with Israel even if it resumes settlement construction in the West Bank, offering a glimmer of hope that a compromise will be reached in a key dispute that has threatened to torpedo the newly relaunched talks.
But in a reminder of the fragile negotiating climate, a private Israeli security guard shot and killed a Palestinian man in a volatile east Jerusalem neighborhood early Wednesday, sparking clashes between stone-hurling youths and Israeli forces.
During the man’s funeral, a mob of protesters set tires on fire, smashed the windows of several buses and screamed for revenge. “We will defend you with our blood and souls, martyr.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly threatened to walk away from peace talks, launched this month in Washington, if Israel resumes building in its West Bank settlements after a 10-month moratorium expires on Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not extend the slowdown, which has put thousands of planned housing starts on hold. Israel has also quietly halted new construction in east Jerusalem, the disputed sector of the city that the Palestinians claim for their future capital.
Speaking to a closed meeting of Jewish American leaders in New York late Tuesday, Abbas made clear that he wants to continue the dialogue with Israel and signaled that he was backing away from his ultimatum.