Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly
September 30, 2010 - 12:00am

GAZA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The ten-month moratorium to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem ended on Sunday. Currently the Israeli government has not offered any statement on whether or not to resume settlement construction.

The unclear Israeli stance over the issue of settlement, has left the Palestinian side reluctant to make their mind as they decided to wait until the upcoming meeting of the Arab League (AL) Committee on peace talks with Israel to be held on Oct. 4 in Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the Jewish settlers in the West Bank for self-control, while Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas said he will make a final decision on whether to continue the direct peace talks with Israel after the AL committee and Palestinian institutions make their decisions.

Political experts fear that if Israel refused to freeze settlement constructions and the Palestinians left the peace negotiations, a new Palestinian Intifada, or uprising would erupt in the Palestinian territories.


Palestinian officials and analysts said that the international community and the United States could press Israel and the Palestinians to overcome the existing differences and find a compromise. But at the same time they don't rule out the possibility of violence in case the talks fail.

Nemer Hammad, an advisor to Abbas, said that he still has hope that the United States and the international community would keep their intensive efforts in a bid to find a reasonable compromise in order to rescue the peace negotiations from failure.

"We shouldn't loose in this stage the international community acceptance of the idea that Israel is responsible for what is happening and it is the one which commits the mistakes," Hammad said. "If settlement resumes and talks fail, the area would witness violence and no one would be convinced in peace."

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Presidency, said Palestinian and Arab positions on the fate of the talks would be clearly issued after the AL committee meeting followed by a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee.

"The Palestinians will not officially announce the resumption of the peace negotiations with Israel until the Palestinians consult the decision with the Arab states and the institutions of the Palestinian leadership," Abu Rdeineh said.


Naji Shurab, a political science scholar at the Gaza-based al- Azhar University, told Xinhua that Israel and the Palestinians " are finding themselves embarrassed following the foreign pressures on both sides."

"Having talks amid settlement will make the Palestinians loose their credibility," Shurab said.

The PNA in this stage "counts on the American position to find a partial middle-ground solution over freezing settlement for a specific period of time, he added. "Coming scenario intends towards freezing the talks for several months until reaching a final compromise."

Eiad al-Barghouthi, a West Bank political analyst, said that the Israeli government will insist on not to extend the moratorium of freezing settlement completely due to government coalition considerations. The question of settlement has become "decisive" for Israel.


When asked if a new Intifada would break out under the current situation, al-Barghouthi said that a new wave of violence would not erupt.

"I don't believe that the Palestinians have a wish or a desire for a third armed Intifada. The Palestinians have learned so many lessons from the previous two Intifadas and the use of arms against Israel, because such actions would lead to a destructive Israeli reaction," he said.

Sameeh Shbeib, a political analyst, said that Israel's current actions in the West Bank "would feed the circumstances for another Intifada to erupt." However, he said that it is impossible for Israel and the Palestinians to "find a magic solution in the nearest future."

In the West Bank, there are 300,000 Jewish settlers living in around 100 settlements built adjacent to Palestinian towns and villages and are protected by the Israeli army. Currently, about 2. 5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The PNA cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank, opposes return of violence to the Palestinian cities and villages in fear of Israeli destructive retaliation.

The PNA security forces, which are trained in neighboring countries, have carried out actions against Islamists in response to a shooting attack carried out by Hamas militants near Hebron in southern West Bank a day before the Israelis and Palestinians headed to Washington to resume their peace talks.


The Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas movement has witnessed a relative calm situation. Hamas movement, which refuses to recognize Israel and rejects the peace talks, is still restoring an undeclared ceasefire.

Palestinian experts said that the Hamas policy is not different from the PNA's, which is not agreed by Hamas leaders. But officials closed to Hamas said that Hamas stopped attacking Israel aiming at preventing any Israeli violent reaction similar to the three-week Israeli war on Gaza in 2008.

Ahmed Hammad, a scholar with the college of media at al-Aqsa University, said that keeping the Palestinian situation like this "would heat up the surrounding circumstances." If Israel and the Palestinians don't reach a peace deal, violence would certainly dominate the region, he said.


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