Palestine calls on 50 countries to demand commercial sanctions on settlements
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on international corporations Wednesday to cease doing business in Israeli settlements.
Abbas's statement came during a press conference in Brussels after he met with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
This is not a step against Israel, Abbas said, but against the illegal settlements continuously being built on Palestinian land.
Still, Abbas vowed to commit to the 9-month time frame for negotiations set by U.S Secretary of State John Kerry.
Abbas said that Palestinians "want to live beside (Israel) and build bridges of peace with it," but added that some Israeli policies, including construction of settlements, military activity and restrictions on the Palestinian economy, are hindrances to the peace process.
"We are working together with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the success of the negotiations," Abbas concluded.
A UN rights expert has singled out several major international firms -- including Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Veolia, G4S and Volvo Group -- for their involvement in building and maintaining settlements.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the United States after nearly three years of impasse.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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