CAIRO — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is so eager to return to peace talks with the Israelis that he may soften his demand that Israel’s president publicly pledge to halt construction of new settlements on Palestinian land before such negotiations can resume.
The shift in the Palestinian leader’s stance was laid out in a draft set of talking points prepared for Abbas by his negotiating team in advance of his private meeting on Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“He can pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiations,” read one talking point, referring to President Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. “(He does not have to announce it.)”
The draft talking points were in an electronic document obtained by The New York Times. The document’s author was listed as NAD-Wajeeha. The initials are that of the authority’s Negotiations Affairs Department and are used in internal communications by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, along with the name of his assistant, Wajeeha.
Erekat said in the email Wednesday night that Abbas’ talking points for the meeting had not been completed. Another senior Palestinian official said, however, that the points were Abbas’s planned arguments, and others familiar with the talking points for previous meetings said the text looked authentic and bore the marks of Erekat’s style.