Last Updated: Tue Apr 05, 2011 19:27 pm (KSA) 16:27 pm (GMT)

Abbas urges Quartet to make clear stand on settlements

Abbas urges the Mideast Quartet to call for an end to settlement activity in the occupied territories
Abbas urges the Mideast Quartet to call for an end to settlement activity in the occupied territories

Palestinian president Mahmod Abbas urged the Quartet on Monday to issue a clear statement over Israeli settlements when it meets this month, a senior aide told AFP.

Speaking by telephone from Amman, Nabil Abu Rudeina said Abbas had urged the Middle East diplomatic Quartet to publish a statement which calls for an end to settlement activity in the occupied territories and which clearly outlines the terms of reference for peace talks with Israel.

"President Abbas asked the U.S. administration and the Quartet to make a clear statement about ending settlement activity and determining the terms of reference for negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital," he said.

Abbas's demands were laid out at a meeting with David Hale, senior assistant to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, in the Jordanian capital Amman.

Following the collapse of direct peace talks with Israel late last year, the Palestinians, with backing from Britain, France and Germany, are pushing for the Quartet to lay down clearer parameters for any new peace negotiations.

The parameters would include a reference to the borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, and the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

The Palestinians also want the Quartet to issue a condemnation of continuing Israeli settlement expansion.

Shortly after Abbas's meeting, Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erakat and Mohammed Shtayeh also held talks with Hale and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair, Abu Rudeina said.

On April 15, key representatives of the Quartet -- which groups the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States -- are to meet in Berlin for top-level talks on the deadlock in the peace negotiations.

UN condemns settlement plans

The U.N.'s Middle East envoy condemned the plans by to build the new homes settlement homes in Gilo.

"Israeli settlement activity anywhere in occupied territory, including in east Jerusalem, is illegal and contrary to the roadmap," said Richard Miron, spokesman for United Nations peace envoy Robert Serry, in reference to the peace roadmap adopted by the Middle East diplomatic Quartet.

"We call on the Israeli government to halt further planning for new settlement units, which undermines efforts to bring about resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and prejudices final status discussions."

His remarks were made a day after the council approved plans for 942 new homes in Gilo on the outskirts of east Jerusalem.

Gilo lies in mostly Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.

Israel considers both sectors of the Holy City its "eternal, indivisible" capital, and does not view construction in the east to be settlement activity.

The Palestinians, however, want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and fiercely contest any actions to extend Israeli control over the sector.

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