Mahmoud Abbas greets George Mitchell
Mahmoud Abbas greets George MitchellIsrael news photo: Flash 90

If proximity talks go well, the Palestinian Authority may relent and return to direct negotiations, according to PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. “Our basic condition has been that there should be a complete halt to settlements, and that is why we went to indirect negotiations,” Abbas explained at a news conference Saturday in Ramallah.

“But we said if there is progress during the period determined by the Arab League for these negotiations, which is four months, during which we shall discuss borders and security, then there will be nothing preventing us from going to direct negotiations.”

Abbas is set to meet Thursday in Ramallah with U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell, according to the AFP news service. Mitchell is the point man who is mediating the indirect, “proximity” talks between Israel and the PA. There have been several such meetings between Abbas and Mitchell, but to date, little progress has been made.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet July 6 in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama. The two were originally scheduled to meet several weeks ago. However, the appointment was scrapped and Netanyahu returned home after a clash broke out between IDF commandos and terrorists on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla that tried to break the maritime blockade on Gaza.