Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday there will be no quick decision whether to pull out of Middle East peace talks now that a 10-month Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction has expired.
Speaking in Paris, where he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Abbas said he will consult with the 22-member Arab League on Oct. 4 before deciding how to proceed.
"We will not have any quick reactions," Abbas said. "After this chain of meetings, we might publish a position that clears up the position of the Palestinian and Arab people after Israel has refused to freeze settlements."
Abbas urged Israel to renew the construction suspension for another three to four months.
The Palestinian president had previously said he would pull out of the recently revived peace talks if construction resumes in the West Bank.
The delay in Abbas's decision could help give the United States time to broker a compromise.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not extend the moratorium. Early Monday, he urged the Palestinians to remain in the negotiations.
In the West Bank, bulldozers were at work in some settlements on Monday morning, but activity was limited.
Construction can begin on some 2,000 housing units already granted permits, with the potential for thousands more. However, the combination of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot — which brought a security ban on the movement of Palestinian labourers to Jewish areas in the West Bank — and pressure on the settlers from the Israeli government to show restraint, was expected to get things off to a slower than expected start.
However, some people expect Israeli settlers will be keen to build, in anticipation of the possibility of another construction freeze if Israel and the Palestinians manage to keep peace talks on the rails.
"For that reason, I believe that the settlers will start immediately to build in the West Bank," Yariv Oppenheim, the head of Israeli non-governmental organization Peace Now told CBC News correspondent Margaret Evans. "They will do their best in order to hide it and not to gain a lot of attention, but definitely they will try to go ahead with as many housing units as they can in the next few weeks."