U.S.: Settlement freeze will be on talks’ agenda

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli and Palestinian leaders will discuss extending Israel’s partial settlement freeze when they launch direct talks next week, a U.S. official said.

"The issue of settlements, the issue of the moratorium, will be – has been a topic of discussion and will be a topic of discussion when the leaders meet with Secretary Clinton on Sept. 2," P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to meet on Sept. 2 to launch direct talks after months of U.S. pressure on both sides.

Abbas already has said he will quit the talks unless Netanyahu agrees to extend the partial 10-month freeze he imposed on settlement building last December as a means of facilitating peace talks. The moratorium is scheduled to end on Sept. 26. Netanyahu is under pressure from some of his coalition members to end the freeze and allow settlement growth to resume.

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