Israel must commit to freezing settlement construction if talks are to resume, says Abbas.Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas has continued to state that the resumption of peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, rely on Israel freezing construction on the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Although a 10 month freeze on construction was promised, Israel has only promised to halt construction of new projects, and in the last week construction approval was given to Kiryat Netafim settlement, South West of Nablus.

Another sticking point remains the lack of defined boundaries between Israel and the
Occupied Palestinian Territories, which Israeli newspaper Maariv is reporting will be the first issue discussed if talks resume.

They go on to state that Israel intends to come to a final status agreement inside of two years, if talks resume, although Haaretz reports that Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Leiberman told Tony Blair, in their meeting yesterday, that this time frame was “unrealistic”.

Both the U.S. and Egypt are increasing pressure on Abbas to resume the peace talks that have been stalled since December last year. Following today’s meeting with Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, Abbas would not comment on the possibility of peace talks with Netanyahu, brokered by Mubarak. Netanyahu and Mubarak met last week.