As Settlement Freeze’s End Looms, Peace Talks’ Future Uncertain

Suggestions Abbas May Try to Continue Talks Without Freeze

by Jason Ditz, September 22, 2010

The clashes today in occupied East Jerusalem and the tenuous calm that followed are something of a metaphor for the ongoing peace process in the Mideast, as the entire situation remains shrouded in speculation with just days left before something, no one quite knows what, happens.

The Israeli government’s partial settlement freeze in parts of the West Bank is coming to an end on Sunday, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has ruled out its continuation, though there seems to be some effort to find some sort of compromise deal.

But will it spell an end to the talks? It seems entirely probable this would be the case, though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ comments that it would be “very difficult” to continue the talks have sparked speculation that he may be about to cave entirely and let Israel expand to its heart’s content.

But Abbas’ ability to keep the talks going, even if he wants to, is as much in doubt as Netanyahu’s ability to keep the freeze going. Neither is all-powerful and both are facing growing discontent about the respective policies. The clashes around the al-Aqsa Mosque today point to a rising tension around the whole situation, and seemingly something has to give.

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