Egypt wants Israel to curb construction

Peace talks still under threat

His comments came as Israel was coming under increasing pressure to extend its curb on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank beyond the end of this month, and aides to Abbas suggested their might be movement towards a compromise on that issue.
Abbas had said previously that the talks could not survive if the Israeli building restrictions were lifted as planned.

“We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts,” Abbas said on Thursday, speaking through an interpreter during a welcoming ceremony for visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The United States has been encouraging Israel to extend its West Bank building limits. Egypt’s leader said he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the restrictions for three more months to give peacemaking a chance.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he told Netanyahu the delay could give the two sides time to draft their future borders. After those lines are agreed, Mubarak reasoned, Israel can build within its future borders and the Palestinians within theirs.

His comments were carried in excerpts from an upcoming interview broadcast on Israel Radio. Netanyahu’s office said on Thursday that Israel doesn’t plan to extend the building limits currently in place and due to expire in late September. Netanyahu has indicated, however, that some restrictions would be applied after that.

No deal

Aides to Abbas said no deal had been reached on the settlement issue, but said they expect that a compromise will be found, suggesting a possible softening of the Palestinians' ultimatum to walk out on the talks if any construction resumes. The aides said the Palestinians would accept the Egyptian proposal for a three-month extension of the current moratorium to negotiate final borders.

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