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Sunday March 28, 2010 8:05 AM (EST+7)
Abbas reiterates rejection of talks alongside Israeli settlement

Read more: Mahmoud Abbas, proximity talks, settlements, Arab league

RAMALLAH, March 28 (JMCC) - Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, reiterated his rejection of negotiations with Israel as long as it continues its settlement policy.

It is not possible to expend effort and continue on with indirect negotiations that were agreed upon by the Arab monitoring committee, Palestinian factions, and sponsored by the US as long as there is the continuation of settlement and the confiscation  of land, Abbas told the gathering.

Indirect talks were given a four-month window by Arab foreign ministers at a meeting earlier this month, but never got off the ground. Days later, Israel announced a new settlement project in Jerusalem, embarrassing visiting US Vice President Joe Biden and setting off a dispute with the United States over construction in the 1967 occupied areas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to resolve the conflict during a visit to Washington last week, in effect taking the thorny issue of whether to continue indirect talks despite Israeli policy off the agenda of the Arab summit.

Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said he will not negotiate with Israel as long as it continues its settlement policy. In November this year, the Israeli government declared a ten-month settlement freeze but excluded Jerusalem and areas of natural growth in the occupied West Bank.

The United States is now pressuring Israel to cancel the construction of 1,600 homes announced during Biden's visit and declare a moratorium on Jerusalem settlement building.






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