Abbas sees no point in meeting Netanyahu if settlements grow
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said yesterday he sees no point in meeting Benjamin Netanyahu if the Israeli premier approves a fast expansion of West Bank settlements before considering a freeze.
Abbas, in Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, told reporters that such a move by Netenyahu, who has been under US pressure to halt settlement construction, would mean he was not serious about peace talks.
"It would mean that he doesn't want to do anything, and there's no need to meet him," Abbas said, insisting again that Israel should freeze settlements as a first step to peace negotiations.
An Israeli government official told AFP on Friday that Netenyahu will approve the construction of hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements before implementing a freeze.
Netenyahu would place a moratorium on settlement expansion "for a few months" after the green light is given to build the new homes, the official said.
The announcement drew outrage from the Palestinians, while the United States, which is trying to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was inconsistent with peace efforts.