Palestinian Leader Abbas Postpones Israel Meeting

by
Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed a controversial meeting with Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz that had been scheduled for Sunday, Palestinian officials said on Saturday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah in May, 2011.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed a controversial meeting with Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz that had been scheduled for Sunday, Palestinian officials said on Saturday.

The officials did not say when a new date might be set for what would be the highest-level meeting between the sides since peace talks broke down in 2010.

"We know that Mofaz will bring nothing new," said Wasl Abu Yosef, a member of Abbas' Palestine Liberation Organization, who told reporters of the postponement.

Israeli officials, who had previously never confirmed or denied the meeting would happen, did not comment.

The meeting had been supposed to take place in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Former Palestinian minister Hassan Asfour said the postponement might have been prompted by a protest among Palestinian youths who did not like the idea of Mofaz, a former Israeli defense chief, being a guest at Abbas' headquarters.

Dozens of young Palestinians later clashed with Abbas' security forces as they tried to march on the headquarters in protest against the meeting, even though it had been put off. Four people were detained.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in late 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlement-building in the West Bank, and Palestinians have demanded a halt to construction before talks resume.

Israel says the settlements issue should be resolved in negotiations and rejects any preconditions for talks.