Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday slightly altered his preconditions for peace talks with Israel by telling London's Guardian newspaper that he will return to the negotiating table if Israel implements an immediate 3-month halt to all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and the eastern side of Jerusalem.
Previously, Abbas had demanded that Israel freeze all Jewish construction in those areas indefinitely.
The announcement effectively puts the ball back in Israel's court, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to either come up with an acceptable counter, or be branded an obstacle to peace for refusing to meet with the international community views as a reasonable demand by Abbas.
In reality, if met, Abbas' new demand would effectively end Jewish building in the areas listed above, including much of Jerusalem. While Abbas sweetened the offer by saying it would only be for three months, he knows well that if talks resume, the international community won't let Israel resume building even if the Palestinians remain non-compliant with their obligations.
By meeting the new demand, Netanyahu would also effectively be surrendering Israel's claim to the eastern half of Jerusalem, making it nearly impossible for him to insist that the holy city remain undivided and under Israeli sovereignty.
Netanyahu has already implemented a temporary 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria that many in Israel fear has set a precedent that cannot be reversed.
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