Obama-Abbas-Netanyahu meeting possible: Israeli diplomat

UNITED NATIONS- Israel's UN envoy said Tuesday that a meeting between US President Barack Obama, his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could take place in New York next month.
Prospects for the groundbreaking summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in the last week of September have gained traction in recent days with Netanyahu expressing hope that a row over settlements with Israel's main ally the United States would soon end to allow the renewal of Middle East peace talks.

Obama-Abbas-Netanyahu meeting possible: Israeli diplomat
"There is a possibility," Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told reporters when asked whether such a three-way gathering was in the offing. She declined to provide further details.
The prospect for the meeting congealed as the hawkish Netanyahu on Tuesday began his first full day of a European trip aimed at placating critics, including Britain and Germany but also the United States, which has been pressing Israel hard to freeze settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Britain and Germany are among the many states to back the US demand, seen as key for reviving the peace talks which were halted last December when Israel launched a deadly offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
A senior Israeli government official told AFP in London on Monday that efforts were underway to set the three-way meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN gathering.
"We hope the conditions will ripen to allow a meeting with Abbas and Obama in New York as a symbolic launching of peace talks. This seems feasible at this point," the official said.
Netanyahu on Tuesday met in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and is to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.
The Israeli leader will also meet in London with Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who is pressing Israel to freeze the settlement activity.
Israel has so far refused a complete freeze, although Netanyahu has agreed to temporarily halt inviting construction tenders for Israeli homes in the occupied West Bank, which Obama termed a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 26th 2009

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