Abbas Expresses Determination To Continue Talks

After two days of difficult peace negotiations with Israel over the issue of Jewish settlements, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sounded a modestly positive note on Thursday, declaring that he saw no alternative but to keep talking. The Palestinians have threatened to walk out of the talks if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not extend a partial moratorium on the construction of settlements, something he has refused to do. While Mr. Abbas’s comments did not rule out the possibility of a walkout, he appeared ready to soldier on, having spent hours in talks with Mr. Netanyahu at the State Department, at a Red Sea resort in Egypt, and most recently at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. “We all know there is no alternative to peace other than negotiating peace, so we have no alternative but to continue peace efforts,” Mr. Abbas said before meeting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Mrs. Clinton encouraged Mr. Abbas, saying the United States would work for the creation of “an independent, sovereign, viable Palestinian state that realizes the aspirations of the Palestinian people.” Many analysts believe the Israelis and the Palestinians will figure out a way to finesse the settlements dispute, if only to avoid being blamed for derailing the talks after less than a month. A stop in Jordan wrapped up a hectic week of peacemaking in the region for Mrs. Clinton, who said she was still confident that Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas “can make the difficult decisions necessary.” After two days spent in air-conditioned hotel rooms in Egypt and Israel, prodding Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas on settlements, Mrs. Clinton traveled through the torrid heat of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley on Thursday, getting an on-the-ground view of the thorny issues, like borders and security, which have made Middle East peace such an elusive quest. On her way to lunch with King Abdullah II