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Thursday Dec. 2, 2010 8:07 PM (EST+7)
Israel snubs talks with building plans -Abbas aide

Read more: Mahmoud Abbas, settlements, East Jerusalem, peace talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Israel's plans for new building near East Jerusalem show it does not want to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday.

The United States has been trying to revive direct negotiations between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but weeks of diplomacy have yet to yield a breakthrough.

The Palestinians want Israel to halt all construction on land where they aim to found an independent state, including areas in and around Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

This Israeli signal shows that they are not willing and not ready for any deal in order to resume the negotiations, Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas's spokesman, told Reuters, condemning plans announced on Wednesday for 625 new homes in Pisgat Zeev.

Pisgat Zeev is built on West Bank land Israel annexed to its Jerusalem municipality immediately after the 1967 war. The annexation has never been recognised internationally.

Israel sees Pisgat Zeev and other districts it has built in and around Jerusalem since 1967 as part of its capital. The Palestinians regard them as settlements, a view supported by the European Union.

Israel's building in and around Jerusalem has strained its ties with the United States this year. Washington says such building does not help peace negotiations.

Abbas and Netanyahu held three rounds of direct talks in September but the Palestinians withdrew from the negotiations three weeks after they started when Israel lifted restrictions on settlement building in the West Bank.

Netanyahu had imposed the restrictions for 10 months. He has faced strong opposition within his cabinet to any further curbs on settlement building. His government is dominated by parties that support the settlers, including his own Likud.

The United States has been in talks with Israel over a set of incentives designed to produce another settlement freeze that would allow the talks to resume.

Referring to the Pisgat Zeev building plans, Abu Rdainah said: It looks like this is an Israeli message to the Palestinians and the Americans that they are refusing any deal resuming the negotiations. (Editing by Andrew Dobbie) (Reporting by Tom Perry; editing by Andrew Dobbie)






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