Palestinian leader Abbas says no peace deal without settlements freeze
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at the UN Saturday that he was committed to peace. But a 10-month freeze on building Israeli settlements ends Sunday.
"Israel must choose between peace and the continuation of settlements," Abbas said in his address to the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled only three weeks after starting in Washington in early September over the impending end of a 10-month freeze on new Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians.
Abbas reaffirmed the Palestinian commitment to try to reach a peace deal.
"We have decided to enter into final status negotiations. We will continue to exert every effort to reach an agreement for Palestinian-Israeli peace within one year in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy ... and the vision of the two-state solution," Abbas told ministers and diplomats.
But with a Sunday deadline looming for Israel to resume the contested building, the Palestinians are waiting for U.S. efforts to break the impasse. President Barack Obama has increasingly placed efforts to resolve the conflict at the center of his foreign policy, but both Israeli and Palestinian officials said Saturday a deal was far from certain.
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