PA Negotiators Pull Out of Talks; Negotiations May Continue
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced Wednesday that PA peace negotiators intend to pull out of peace talks. Negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told AFP the move was in response to "increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results."
"Abbas has a number of choices here - he can refuse or accept and form a new delegation, or demand a new negotiations mechanism," one negotiator said to AFP reporters.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced earlier Wednesday a public withdrawal of plans to build 24,000 housing units across the region, in an attempt to prevent "an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements in the international community to reach a better deal with Iran."
The US has repeatedly emphasized the connection between the peace talks' success - which has been hindered by PA refusal to acknowledge Jewish building rights in Judea and Samaria - and international support to continue sanctions on Iran.
Abbas had warned that he would declare the peace process over if plans for a massive building project went ahead. He told Egyptian TV channel CBC late Tuesday that the negotiators had presented their resignations, but that he had not yet accepted them. Reuters reports that he may be considering appointing a new team, and has expressed hopes that the peace talks would still continue.