Israeli Settlements Resume With ‘Restraint,’ Abbas Still Talking, For Now

September 27, 2010

(ChattahBox World News)—-The fragile peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are continuing for now, despite the partial freeze on West Bank settlements expiring at midnight last night. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israeli settlers to resume construction quietly. And to avoid an all-out display of bulldozers that would inflame the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would hold off making a decision of whether to withdraw from the talks, until he consulted with Arab leaders on October 4. Still, the negotiations remain tenuous, with far right-wing factions within Netanyahu’s cabinet and hardliner settlers searching for ways to torpedo the talks.

Netanyahu on Sunday, urged settlers intent on construction, to show “restraint and responsibility.” And he called on Abbas to remain in the U.S. sanctioned peace talks, promising “continuous contacts in the coming days to find a way” to continue negotiating with his Palestinian neighbors.

The AFP reports that Abbas is also showing restraint, despite earlier threats to leave the talks if West Bank settlements resumed.

“Before October 4 there will not be an official Palestinian answer,” Nabil Abu Rudeina said, as Abbas held talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“During that day president Abbas will consult with the Arab governments and will come back to the Palestinian leadership to take the right decision and the right answer, with all what we have from the Americans and the Israelis.”

Meanwhile, although Israeli leaders can’t stop local construction and development altogether, government officials can delay the issuing of building permits to diffuse tension, while the peace talks proceed.

Ynet is reporting that Israeli officials would ensure that any West Bank construction would be limited to large settlement blocs and construction that began before the moratorium.

“According to the compromise being worked out, construction will be limited to the large settlement blocs and to building work that started before the freeze, the source said. He stressed that both the Palestinians and Americans will not allow Israel to take advantage of the more lenient Palestinian position in order to build outside the settlement blocs.”

And about those building permits:

“Other Palestinian sources estimated that the compromise in respect to West Bank construction will take the form of a “quiet freeze,” with Israel’s Defense Ministry holding up construction permits. The sources noted that as part of the understandings worked out in respect to construction, the Palestinians demand that serious negotiations be launched on the issue of borders, which includes the fate of the settlements.”

But at least one group of right-wing settlers failed to heed BiBi’s message of restraint.

The Washington Post reports just hours after the settlement freeze expired, a group of settlers rushed out to pour a foundation for a new day care center, while taunting President Obama, calling him “Hussien.”

“Before a battery of television cameras, a cement mixer poured concrete for a new day-care center at the Qiryat Netafim settlement, which is deep in the West Bank. Busloads of Likud members arrived at the neighboring settlement of Revava for a final countdown on the moratorium, and a mass release of balloons at sundown to mark the lifting of the building restrictions.” [..]

“Gershon Mesika, the head of the regional settlement council, had a message for the U.S. president. “From this stage I say to Hussein Obama: The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. The Jewish people have the strongest title deed in the world, and that is the Bible,” he said, using Obama’s middle name.”

Peace in the Middle East is not an easy process, but the White House is determined to facilitate a peaceful solution to the ongoing violence and tension in the region.

During White House talks with Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah II of Jordan, earlier in the month, President Obama stressed the urgency of a peaceful solution in the Middle East.

“Too much blood has already been shed,” said Obama.


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