President Barack Obama watches as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands at a trilateral meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York last September.
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could implode before they even get off the ground. Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell will have their chaperoning cut out for them, with the PA threatening to withdraw if Israel resumes settlement construction and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a plan to do just that.
A senior Palestinian official in Sharm el-Sheikh told Haaretz that Abbas and Netanyahu had reached an agreement on the issues they are to discuss. But the main controversy remains the construction freeze in the settlements. PA spokespeople reiterated yesterday that if Israel resumes construction, even if only in the settlement blocs, the Palestinian delegation will quit the talks.
[...] Netanyahu convened the forum of seven seven ministers yesterday to discuss his proposal to resume construction in the West Bank settlements after September 30. He proposed limited construction, mainly in the large settlement blocs and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.