RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Palestinians dug in ahead of a crucial meeting today with Washington’s Mideast envoy, saying they can’t be expected to continue peace talks unless Israel reverses a decision to lift restrictions on West Bank settlement construction.

Neither side seems to want the month-old talks to collapse, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are publicly at an impasse, with a Monday deadline looming.

President Obama’s emissary, George Mitchell, is making a secretive last-minute attempt to rescue the negotiations. He was to travel to Abbas’ West Bank headquarters today, after meeting with Israeli leaders on Wednesday. Mitchell said after talks with Netanyahu that he is undaunted by what he described as “bumps in the road,” but offered no glimpse of a possible compromise.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, announced she’s heading to the region “as a matter of priority” after talking to Mitchell and international Mideast envoy Tony Blair. Starting today, the EU foreign policy chief will meet with Netanyahu, Abbas and Mitchell over two days to try to prevent the collapse of negotiations. She reiterated in a statement that the European Union regrets Israel’s decision not to extend a 10-month-old moratorium on West Bank housing starts that expired this week.

Netanyahu has said extending the construction curb could fracture his pro-settlement governing coalition, but has also said he wants to keep negotiating with Abbas. Obama wants a deal on the terms of a Palestinian state within a year.

Abbas advisers on Wednesday stopped short of posing an ultimatum, but signaled they would accept nothing less than an extension of the moratorium.

Abbas on Wednesday was quoted as saying, without elaborating, that he is ready to make a “historic decision” when Arab League foreign ministers meet Monday in Cairo to review the negotiations. It wasn’t clear whether Abbas meant he was ready to quit the talks or whether he was simply trying to create some last-minute leverage.

On Saturday, Abbas will consult top officials from his Fatah Party and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making body before sitting down with the Arab officials.

Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO body, said there was widespread opposition to resuming talks without a settlement curb.

“The consensus is that since the entire world is in favor of a Palestinian state and against settlements, then let us throw this problem in the face of the world and see what they can do about it,” Amireh said.