RAMALLAH, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel's recent decision to build 1,200 housing units on its occupied lands in east Jerusalem and the West Bank outraged the Palestinian officials, who said Sunday that the step would cast shadows on direct peace talks between the two sides.
Israel on Sunday announced invitation for bids to build 1,200 housing units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, only three days before it enters a new round of peace talks with the Palestinians.
The Palestinians largely condemned the Israeli decision. Mohamed Ishtaya, a Palestinian negotiator, told Xinhua that the move "is a deliberate blow on the international and U.S. efforts exerted to achieve peace in the region," adding "peace and settlements are contradictory and can never meet."
Halting settlement was a major Palestinian demand to resume the stalled peace talks, he stressed.
U.S. State Department announced last week that the second round of direct peace talks will be held between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The Palestinians agreed to resume the talks after Israel agreed to free 104 Palestinian prisoners from its jails.
The Palestinians are hoping that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would ask the Israeli government to end settlement expanding.
Ishtaya said the Palestinians have presented a protest to Kerry about Israel's fresh move.
Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a press statement that Israel "is not stopping its consecutive strikes against the international efforts... Such strikes are aiming at blocking the negotiations."
"Israel is trying to empty the process of the U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations before it is really launched," Ashrawi contended, adding "After this serious decision, I don't believe that the Palestinians are in need for meaningless negotiations with Israel."
Earlier on Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Special Peace Envoy to the Middle East, Martin Indyk met in Ramallah to prepare for THE second round of peace talks.
A well-informed Palestinian source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that Abbas told Indyk that the settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem "will undermine the principle of the two-state solution and undermine the U.S. efforts to revive the peace process."
JERUSALEM, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Sunday announced invitation for bids to build 1,200 housing units on its occupied lands in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, only three days before it enters a new round of peace talks with the Palestinians.
According to the Israeli Housing Ministry, about 800 housing units are planned in Jewish settlements beyond the 1967 borderlines in east Jerusalem, and 400 housing units in the West Bank. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Israelis and Palestinians will have their second round of peace talks in Jerusalem on Aug. 14 and then a third in Jericho of the West Bank, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
"Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians will be resuming Aug. 14 in Jerusalem, and will be followed by a meeting in Jericho," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily press briefing. Full story