RAMALLAH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The second round of Israeli- Palestinian peace talks is set to begin on Wednesday in Jerusalem amid an atmosphere of mistrust due to Israel's renewed settlement building plan.
The negotiations, resumed at the end of July in Washington under mediation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, aim at reaching a peace deal ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within nine months.
However, earlier this week, just a few days ahead of the second round of talks, the Israeli government announced new building tenders, which envision constructing more than 1,000 houses in settlements in the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The move was met with outrage by the Palestinian side.
"We are going to engage in the negotiations with too much suspicion and caution," Abdallah Abdallah, an official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party told Xinhua, blaming the new building tenders as "a destruction to the peace process and their continuation as an end to the negotiations."
He added that the Palestinians "will not abandon any chance that could bring us our rights."
In 2010, the Palestinians left the negotiating table in protest at the Israeli settlement activities, especially in East Jerusalem, which they seek as a future capital. Since then, they refused to resume the direct negotiations without an Israeli commitment with the two-state solution and a full halt of settlement building.
Recently, the Palestinians are returning to the negotiating table with U.S. verbal guarantees, and Israel's agreement to release 104 prisoners who were held before the 1993 Oslo peace accord between the two sides. Early Wednesday, Israel freed 26 long-serving prisoners as the first group of the 104.
Abdallah continued saying that the negotiations are starting with the security and border issues topping the agenda.
"Though we are starting with border and security issues... We reject any attempt to impose temporary borders or partial solutions," Abdallah said.
On Tuesday, U.S. top diplomat Kerry made separate phone calls with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the impact of Israel's announcement of new building plans.
A source told Xinhua that Kerry promised Abbas to put pressure on Israel to decrease the announcement of new tenders, renewing the U.S. stance that settlements were illegal.
For its part, Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, renewed its opposition to the negotiations, considering it as "a crime with dangerous consequences that aims to end the Palestinian struggle," according to Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.