Palestinians halt peace talks while settlements continue
The Palestinian Authority on Monday ruled out peace negotiations with Israel while the Jewish state continues settlement activity in the occupied territories. The move comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that settlement building in east Jerusalem would continue.
Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he would not return to peace talks without a complete freeze of settlements.
Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Monday the Israeli policies “do not create an appropriate atmosphere for the resumption of the peace process".
Despite a growing diplomatic crisis with the United States, Netanyahu told members of his Likud party that construction would continue in Jerusalem, “as this has been the
case over the past 42 years”.
The Palestinians had on 7 March agreed to indirect talks with Israel after months of US shuttle diplomacy.
But two days later, Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, dealing a major blow to peace efforts.
Israel's ambassador to Washington said bilateral relations have hit a 35-year low.