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Report: Abbas willing to accept secret settlement freeze

March 21, 2013 10:47 A.M. (Updated: March 24, 2013 9:43 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to accept an unannounced settlement freeze in order to renew peace talks with Israel, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Citing the talking points of an internal PLO document ahead of Abbas' meeting with US President Barack Obama on Thursday, the report quoted Abbas as saying he wished to return to peace talks but only on the condition that Israel froze settlements, publicly or not.

“He can pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiations,” one line of the document said, apparently referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “(He does not have to announce it.)”

The Times said it obtained an electronic copy of the document, whose author was listed as an aide to PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat in the negotiations affairs department.

Other items in the document urge Obama to encourage Netanyahu to say he is willing to accept a two-state solution on the 1967 borders: "He never said it ... I hope one day he will put his Map on the table as I did.”

Another talking point is a warning that Abbas is prepared to begin scaling back the Palestinian Authority's control of certain areas in the event Israel's occupation fails to come to an end.

“I am not threatening, I am sharing a fact with you,” Abbas was expected to say. “If this situation continues I will be forced to ask Prime Minister (Netanyahu) to resume his responsibilities.”
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