Obama, Abbas, Netanyahu to meet


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu will meet this week in New York.

The leaders of the United States, the Palestinian Authority and Israel will meet Tuesday, according to a statement released by the White House. Obama will meet separately with each leader before the joint meeting.

"These meetings will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed," the statement said.

On Saturday night, the White House announced that the meetings would take place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Netnayahu, who had originally been scheduled to leave for the General Assembly on Wednesday, was set to leave Israel on Monday afternoon.

Mitchell met last Friday with Netanyahu and Abbas. After the Abbas meeting in Ramallah, Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, told reporters that Mitchell had failed to achieve the breakthrough necessary to renew talks. Abbas wants Israel to totally freeze settlement building; Netanyahu is willing to freeze such building for a limited time, and to make allowances for "natural growth."

Erekat said the Palestinians do not consider the meeting in New York to be a respumtion of peace talks.

Additionally, the Palestinians want to have comprehensive talks on all issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Israel wants only to discuss borders.

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