The Palestinian stance appears puzzling at first glance.Source
President Barack Obama is seen by many here as more evenhanded in handling the Mideast conflict than his predecessors, and he has promised to push for a deal on Palestinian statehood within a year. Ostensibly, the Palestinians are risking the big prize — statehood — for the lesser goal of a settlement freeze during negotiations.
However, Palestinians deeply mistrust Netanyahu, a longtime hard-liner, and consider his refusal to halt settlements as proof of his true intentions. Veteran negotiators say they deeply regret not having insisted on a settlement freeze when talks first began 17 years ago; since then the number of Israelis moving to war-won lands claimed by the Palestinians has tripled, to half a million.
Palestinians also question how the U.S. expects to broker agreement on such charged issues as the partition of Jerusalem if it can't get Israel to comply with an internationally mandated settlement freeze.
"The Americans didn't exercise any kind of pressure on the Israelis," said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO member who participated in Saturday's meeting. "The Israelis hijacked the process. He (Netanyahu) thumbed his nose at the Americans."