Abbas: Obama Hurt Mideast Talks by Dropping Settlement Demands

In interview with German magazine, PA leader accuses Obama of backtracking on stance for full freeze.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday blamed U.S. President Barack Obama for delaying the resumption of Middle East peace talks by not standing firm on his demand to see a complete freeze in West Bank settlements.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Abbas said that he would not rescind his own stance on the matter. He added that the Palestinians expected Obama to convince Israel to announce a complete freeze, accusing the American administration of having changed its stance on the matter.

He told the daily that the optimism he had felt following Obama's election had waned, and he was no longer satisfied with the American president's performance.

Abbas has made similar remarks over the last few months, both with regard to his disappointment with Obama as well as his demand for a settlement freeze as a condition for re-launching peace talks.

Obama's special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, has laid blame for the stalled talks on Abbas.

Mitchell believed the Palestinians were showing little enthusiasm for talks because inaction was safer than reentering dialogue when the outcome was so uncertain, the London-based A-Sharq-al-Awsat reported a few days ago.

Mitchell has urged Europe to step up pressure on Abbas in an attempt to kick-start stalled peace talks with Israel, said the paper.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed late last year to a 10-month temporary construction freeze, but the Palestinians have declared that to be insufficient.