US disappointed by plans for new Jerusalem homes

WASHINGTON- The United States is "deeply disappointed" over Israel's announced plans to build 1,300 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
Washington is "deeply disappointed by the announcement of advanced planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of east Jerusalem," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
The United States saw the announcement as "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," he added.

US disappointed by plans for new Jerusalem homes
He said the issue would be one of the talking points when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets in New York on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is visiting the United States this week.
"She will do a number of things this week focused on Middle East peace," Crowley added.
On Wednesday, Clinton will hold a video conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She will also meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, the spokesman said.
The news on the settlements sparked a furious reaction from the Palestinians who accused Netanyahu of sabotaging peace talks.
But Netanyahu urged Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, warning the Jewish state will not yield to international dictates.
Speaking before a gathering of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, the premier said on Monday the Palestinians should stop imposing preconditions on a resumption of US-backed direct talks.
"If you want to live peacefully next to us come and negotiate peace with us. Palestinian leaders who genuinely want peace should stop placing preconditions and start negotiating peace," Netanyahu said.
Although headlines about fresh settlement plans looked likely to embarrass the Israeli leader, the activist group Peace Now said the timing of the announcement was not accidental as the plans had been readied to put forward for public scrutiny since July 2008.
Crowley said however that "it could very well be that somebody in Israel has... made this known in order to embarrass the prime minister and to undermine the process."
He added: "This is expressly why we have been encouraging the parties... to remain in direct negotiations, to return to direct negotiations and to work through these issues face to face. This is the only way that they're going to be resolved."
Direct peace talks which began in early September quickly ran aground when an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement construction expired six weeks ago, prompting the Palestinians to freeze ties until Israel reimposes the ban.

Monday, November 8th 2010

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