US Sends Ross to Talk Freeze

The US has sent Dennis Ross to get Israel, PA agreement on construction freeze.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 07:38

PM Netanyahu (archive)
PM Netanyahu (archive)
Flash 90

United States diplomat Dennis Ross was in Israel Thursday, reportedly to discuss the Judea and Samaria construction freeze. The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel continue the freeze, while Israeli leaders say they will stick to their commitment to renew construction on September 26.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent letters to U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and European Union Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton earlier this week and insisted that Israel continue to ban Jewish building after the current 10-month freeze ends.

Israel activists have called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to give in to Abbas's pressure.

Israel and the PA are to begin direct negotiations next week. Teams of Israeli and PA negotiators are scheduled to head to Washington.

Israel's team will be headed by Yitzchak Molcho. Another team member is Foreign Ministry official Yaakov Hadas. Sources close to Netanyahu say he is working with advisors to  finish assembling the delegations.

Abbas is assembling his team as well. The PA leader faces challenges beyond selecting diplomats: Abbas is facing strong objections from minority PA political groups, including the DFLP, the PFLP, and Hamas, which reject talks and say any negotiations conducted by Abbas will not be legitimate. He also must deal with the topic of PA elections, which have been repeatedly postponed, leaving Abbas in the fifth year of a four-year term as Chairman, with opponents questioning his legitimacy.