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Abbas asks US to step into settlement dispute

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS') is asking the U.S. to settle a dispute with Israel over settlement expansion.

Israel's 10-month partial freeze on new construction in West Bank settlements ends Sept. 26, and Israeli officials have indicated they will not extend the freeze as is. Abbas has said he'll quit peace talks with Israel unless the restrictions remain in place.

Settlements take up land the Palestinians want for a state, and Abbas views Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision on the freeze as a test of his intentions.

Abbas and Netanyahu will meet twice next week for peace talks, first in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik and then in Jerusalem. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the Jerusalem meeting.

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