These peace talks seemed doomed from the beginning. Hamas was elected as the majority government but has never been accepted by the west. Saudi Arabia managed to broker a coalition government but that collapsed when Hamas took over Gaza and Abbas formed his own government with no Hamas participation with the blessing of the US and other western powers.
Israel must not really want a deal since it has put Abbas in an impossible situation. He is already seen by many Palestinians as a puppet and sellout. Abbas has no control over rockets being fired from Gaza! Israel is flouting not only the agreement with Abbas but also snubbing its nose at its biggest patron the US. Of course the US will do little most likely but tut tut, now now, be good please.
New Israeli settlements will cloud peace talks: Abbas
Last Updated: Sunday, December 23, 2007 | 5:26 PM ET
The confirmation of an Israeli plan to build 740 apartment units in areas the Palestinians view as their own will complicate planned Mideast peace talks, officials and observers warned Sunday.
The Israeli government plans to allocate $25 million to build 500 new units in East Jerusalem and 240 nearby in the West Bank, Rafi Eitan, the cabinet minister for Jerusalem affairs, said Sunday.
Israeli tanks were part of a force that moved into the Gaza Strip on Dec. 11. Four militants were killed in the operation.
(Ariel Schalit/Associated Press) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party controls the West Bank, said building the apartments will breach Israel's agreement to halt construction while the two sides try and work out a peace deal.
"We can't understand these settlement activities at a time we're talking about final status negotiations," Abbas said.
Reporting from Jerusalem, the CBC's Peter Armstrong said "this will undoubtably cloud the new negotiations." Palestinians are "outraged" about the building, and the U.S. has already expressed "serious objections" to settlement expansions, he added.
Israel and the Palestinians represented by Abbas agreed in November to revive peace talks, with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meeting every two weeks.
But Israel is also angry with the Palestinians, complaining that they have not stopped attacks on Israeli territory. Rockets are regularly fired into southern Israel from Gaza, which has been under the control of Hamas since gunmen from the group ousted their Fatah counterparts in June.
Israel has responded by sending soldiers into Gaza, and on Sunday, Olmert said Israel will continue to battle Hamas.
"There is no other way to describe what is happening in the Gaza Strip except as a true war between the Israeli army and terrorist elements," he said, ruling out negotiations with Hamas.
Hamas won more seats than the long-dominant Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian Authority election, although Abbas continued on as president of the Palestinian Authority. However, Hamas was eventually forced to form a coalition government with Fatah because of renewed violence and a Western-led boycott that had shut off billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.
After Hamas took over Gaza, Abbas dissolved the tenuous Hamas-Fatah government and formed a new one that Hamas refuses to recognize.
With files from the Associated