Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Israel’s moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements to remain in effect as long as peace talks are under way, a regional daily reported Sunday.
“We (asked for) a complete halt to settlements for a certain period as long as we are negotiating. If after a 3-month period of talks we reached nothing, then we should continue talks and the freeze continues. This is our suggestion,” Abbas was quoted as saying by the al-Hayat newspaper.
Israel’s construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank is a sticking point in the latest round of negotiations between the two sides.
Israel’s 10-month moratorium on construction is set to expire at 2200 GMT Sunday.
Netanyahu has said he cannot extend the moratorium and rejected Palestinian demands for an extension as a condition for direct talks. The Palestinians have threatened to walk out on the talks, if Netanyahu allows the moratorium to expire. However, Abbas did not repeat that threat before the United Nations Assembly on Saturday, as US diplomats intensified their efforts to keep the talks going and pressured Israel to extend the freeze.
The first direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly two years kicked off in Washington earlier this month, following several months of indirect talks.