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Dismayed Abbas turns to Arab leaders

Following Washington's failure to coax Israel into extending its settlement freeze, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas turns to the Arabs for answers

Dina Ezzat , Wednesday 8 Dec 2010
Abbas in Athens
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses journalists during a news conference in Athens 8 December 2010. (Reuters)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to be "dismayed but not surprised" by a US announcement on Tuesday admitting its failure to convince Israel to impose a three month freeze on illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

According to an Abbas aide who spoke to Ahram Online via phone from Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) "had seen this coming".

 "The Americans have not been making progress in their talks with the Israeli government over the settlement freeze and even the generous security and economic guarantees that the US was willing to offer to Israel did not work," he said.

According to the same source, Washington is currently reconsidering an Egyptian proposal to call for talks between "small" negotiating teams from Israel and the PA who would meet in the US to conclude an agreement on proposed borders for the future Palestinian state -- on grounds that this would somehow address the issue of settlement.

 "The Egyptians have said that if we get the settlements issue on the side and agree on the borders we could work out something; we agreed; we even agreed in principal to a provisional borders agreement but what Israel is offering in return are very open-ended talks that we cannot settle on -- too difficult," the same source said.

Meanwhile, Abbas arrived in Cairo for a round of talks with President Hosni Mubarak, Arab League chief Amr Moussa and other Arab leaders to consult on his next move.

An announcement will likely not be made till after the Arab league's ministerial meeting on Saturday.

Abbas' next move is likely to solicit some sort of intervention from the UN Security Council. "We still have to carefully think through our next move; we don’t want to get into a confrontation with the US administration," said an Egyptian diplomat.

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