Israel will not freeze illegal settlement construction in Jerusalem, official says
Construction takes place in the illegal Israeli settlement Har Homa, in East Jerusalem (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Israel says it will not freeze settlement building in al-Quds (Jerusalem), as nine-month deadline for a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) approaches.
An Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, on Tuesday rejected conditions proposed by acting Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas for the extension of the so-called peace talks.
Abbas said during a meeting with journalists at his PA headquarters in Ramallah that he would agree to extend the negotiations if Tel Aviv frees a group of Palestinian prisoners.
"There must be a total freeze of settlements," by Israel in the occupied West Bank including east al-Quds (Jerusalem), Abbas also said.
He further noted that if Israel wants to extend the talks beyond the April 29 deadline, "The borders between Israel and the state of Palestine must also be defined within a month, two or three."
The Israeli official, however, said that the settlements in al-Quds (Jerusalem) would not be frozen and that "It is impossible to define borders before an agreement on the other issues."
"He who makes such conditions does not want peace," the official added.
The talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli regime reached a new deadlock when Tel Aviv refused to free the last tranche of the 104 Palestinian prisoners in late March as part of a deal for the resumption of the US-sponsored negotiations.
Since the resumption of the direct talks in July 2013, Palestinians have objected to a number of issues, including the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to the Palestinian sources, the issue of the settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories remain as the main obstacle to the peace in the region.
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