Palestinians express anger US failure to get settlement freeze
Palestinian officials expressed anger Wednesday at the US failure to get Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank temporarily in order to allow resumption of direct peace negotiations, DPA reported.
They said the US call on Palestinians and Israel to send delegations to Washington to discuss how to deal with the core issues at stake in the negotiations is an attempt to waste more time.
The US declared Tuesday that it was abandoning efforts to get an Israel to institute a 90-day freeze on construction at its West Bank settlements, and instead will focus instead on the core issues with the parties.
A previous, 10-month limited Israeli settlement freeze ended on September 26, placing newly-restarted peace talks in limbo as Palestinians insisted it be extended to allow the negotiations to continue.
The US proposed last month that Israel extend the freeze by 90 days, in return for incentives, but on Tuesday night officials admitted the proposal was going nowhere.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a close aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the decision not to pursue the freeze "was a declaration of the failure of US efforts."
Speaking form Athens, where he is accompanying Abbas on an official visit, he told the Palestinian media it was "a blow" to the US from Israel.
"We are surprised that the US did not openly condemn Israel," he said.
He said Abbas received an oral message from the US late Tuesday night, that Washington wants to hold separate meetings with the Palestinians and Israel delegates on how to move forward on final status issues.
He described this as "an attempt for more stalling."
"If the US was not able to get Israel to freeze settlements for a limited period in order to hold serious negotiations, how can it get Israel to accept the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders?" he asked.
Israeli officials issued no comment Wednesday on the US failure to get a new freeze going, except to say that "Israel remains determined to continue the efforts to achieve a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians, an agreement that will bring about genuine reconciliation between the two peoples."
"We believe that it is indeed possible to see the Palestinians achieve sovereignty while protecting Israel's most vital national and security interests," a statement form Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.