US 'deeply disappointed' over Israeli settlement decision

WASHINGTON- The United States said Wednesday it was "deeply disappointed" that Israel decided to speed up settlement building after UNESCO decided to admit the Palestinians, boosting their statehood drive.
It also signaled opposition to Israel's decision to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax funds, after the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization admitted the Palestinians as a full member.

US 'deeply disappointed' over Israeli settlement decision
"We are deeply disappointed by yesterday's announcement about accelerated housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"As we have said before, unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direction negotiations and they do not advance the goal of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties.
"That's the only way to achieve the two-state solution that both sides have as their goal, with the Palestinians having their own sovereign state and the Israelis having the security that they so deeply deserve," Carney said.
"So any action, as we have said all along, that either side takes that makes it harder rather than easier for the two parties to come together in direct negotiations is something that we oppose."
A day after the UNESCO vote, Israel's inner cabinet decided on Tuesday to speed up construction of Jewish settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank. It also decided to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax funds.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland echoed the White House's deep disappointment over the decision to speed up settlement building and signaled opposition to the the freeze on funds transfers.
"We've also said that we believe that the regular transfer of money, whether it's US money, whether it's (Palestinian) money, is important and should continue to be made," Nuland told reporters.
She said "these are key to strengthening Palestinian institutions and are necessary for funding the future of the state" the Palestinians hope to build.
Nuland said the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro, registered his opposition to the steps with the Israeli government.
Palestinians won a crucial vote to enter UNESCO as a full member on Monday, scoring a symbolic victory in their battle for statehood ahead of a similar vote at the UN General Assembly in New York.
The United States is opposed to the Palestinians' drive for statehood at the United Nations, saying they can only achieve their goal by returning to direct peace negotiations with Israel that have been stalled for more than a year.

Thursday, November 3rd 2011

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