By his own account, President Mahmoud Abbas’s hard-line stance on the settlement issue is unfounded: He has said more than once that he adopted it only because he felt obliged to match a similar demand by President Obama. Mr. Obama, however, has dropped that condition; and as the Palestinians know, the matter is purely symbolic — both sides agree that Israel will annex the Jerusalem neighborhoods and West Bank settlements where most of the building is going on. For example, during a previous round of negotiations, Mr. Abbas’s negotiators specifically agreed to Israeli annexation of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo; yet an announcement of new construction there last week prompted theatrical denunciations by those same Palestinian officials, as well as criticism from the Quartet.
Here is one of the parts from a June 2008 meeting where Saeb Erekat said that the PLO was conceding Gilo:
Saeb: Our proposition will allow for the inclusion of 70% of settlers, that is about 310,000 settlers.
Rice: Did you see their proposition?
Livni: We looked at it. There are no Maale Adumim, Ephrat, Ariel, Givat Zeev or Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim).
Saeb: Why do I not say the opposite, that there are Zakhron Yacov, the French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot Alon, Ramat Shlomo, Gilo, Tal Piot, and the Jewish Quarter in the old city of Jerusalem.
Also, in 2009:
Addressing Israel's controversial plan to build hundreds of housing units in Jerusalem's southeastern Gilo neighborhood, visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday, "I understand that this is not a political decision, and it should not be an obstacle to resuming negotiations."
Speaking to Israeli reporters at the Jaffa residence of French Ambassador Chritophe Bigot, Kouchner said that while France is opposed to settlement construction in principle, "this case (Gilo) should not be an obstacle."