Israel to postpone new settlement announcement

Israel to postpone new settlement announcement
Thu Jan 2, 2014 09:38:07

The Israeli regime plans to stop announcing new settlement construction bids while the US secretary of state is in the Middle East, Israeli officials said as John Kerry was to land Thursday.

"Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry's eye," a senior official told Israel's Haaretz newspaper on Thursday.

Kerry was to meet with acting head of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials from Thursday through at least Sunday, and probably longer, to advance a US-led effort to draft a preliminary framework for peace.

Kerry first proposed the framework last month as the end goal of nine months of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that started in July.

The Obama administration considers settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds -- territories Israel usurped in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War -- illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.

Most of the world considers Israeli housing settlements in any of the captured territories illegal under international law.

Israel intends to announce new plans for illegal construction in Jewish settlements, a move that is likely to trigger an international uproar and threaten peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Israeli regime has announced new settlement construction plans during previous prisoner releases to blunt domestic criticism.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the expanded settlement plans undermine any chance of peace, and Palestinian leaders say they plan to fight them in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, if the peace talks fail.

Abbas denounced the settlement plans in a New Year's Eve address, calling them a "cancer" and vowing to use the Authority's "right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it."

He also reiterated his threat to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state if Israel expands settlement construction.


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