Israel must stop settlements before any talks

Israel must stop settlements before any talks
Sun May 12, 2013 14:15:19

Palestinian authority foreign minister Riyad al-Malki says halting Israel’s illegal settlement construction is "vital" to start any negotiations with the regime.

"It is not a Palestinian condition. It is a requirement by the international community," Malki said on Sunday.


Despite international condemnation the Israeli regime signed off plans on Thursday to build nearly 300 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.


Malki said "For us, stopping settlement construction is vital, important and essential to really sit down and talk about the subject of negotiations".


"Without this, it will be difficult, if not impossible to find a Palestinian interested in sitting down and talking with the Israelis,” he added.


Malki was speaking in Spanish to reporters during a press conference in Panama City as he wrapped up a tour of Central America.


The Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because the territories they are built on were captured by Israel in a 1967 war and are hence seen as being subjected to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.


Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap for Peace plan in 2002, but it has failed to fulfill that commitment despite repeated and widespread international condemnation.


Not only has the presence and continued expansion of these settlements been a major source of international criticism against Israel, but they are also considered one of the main obstacles to Middle East peace.


More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

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