04/10/2012, 00.00
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Israeli settlements undermine Palestinian state

Palestine's UN observer blasts Israel's settlement policy. Settlements block the peace process since 2010. His appeal comes two days before the Mideast Quartet meets in Washington.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal, undermine a two-states solution and block peace talks, Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour said two days before the Quartet of Mideast mediators -the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia-meets in Washington to discuss the long-stalled peace process.

In an appeal to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN General Assembly, the Palestinian diplomat said that Israel's continuing illegal settlement campaign" is "being deliberately waged in an attempt to seize more Palestinian land", casting a long shadow on Israel's real commitment to renewed peace talks.

For Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel's UN Mission, the peace process is at a standstill because of the Palestinian Authority's refusal to recognise Israel, not the settlements. "We need direct negotiations, not more provocations at the UN," she said.

Direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine ended in September 2010 when Israel refused to freeze its settlement policy. In January, the Mideast Quartet urged both sides to renew official negotiations to reach a final peace agreement by the end of 2012.

So far, there have been no positive developments. On Sunday at the end of Easter Mass, the pope called on Israelis and Palestinians to "courageously take up anew the peace process".

In recent years, Israel has stepped up its settlement policy in the West Bank, now home to about half a million Israeli settlers.

On 4 April, Israel's housing minister announced a plan to build new 1,121 housing units in three Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, 872 in Har Homa (East Jerusalem), a settlement that separates the Holy City from Bethlehem, 180 in Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem, and 69 in Katzrin, on the Golan Heights.


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For UN envoy, Quartet not protecting Palestinians
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For Obama talks between Israel and Palestine are urgent, but no one is budging


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