Israel settlement freeze: US expresses disappointment as Israel resumes building

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Sep 27, 2010, 11:02:41 PM9/27/10
Perilous Times

Israel settlement freeze: US expresses disappointment as Israel resumes building

The US has expressed regret and disappointment after Israel announced it would not extend the 10-month moratorium on new settler homes in the West Bank.

Published: 10:06PM BST 27 Sep 2010

An Israeli settler gestures as he argues with a left-wing activist taking part in a protest in Jerusalem calling on the continuation of a building freeze Photo: Reuters

Israeli settlers resumed building across the West Bank after the partial freeze on construction expired, but there was widespread praise for Palestinians, who held back on threats to quit peace talks over the move.

"We are disappointed, but remain focused on our long term objectives," said Philip Crowley, a spokesman for the US State Department. "One way or the other the parties have to find a way to continue direct negotiations."

European leaders were unanimous in their concern at the Israeli decision, and warned that the Middle East peace talks could founder on the issue.

William Hague, the foreign secretary said he was "very disappointed" and would personally pass on his appeal to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the UN General Assembly in New York.

At a joint news conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, expressed his "regret that the unanimous calls for the moratorium on Israeli settlement building to be extended were not listened to. I deplore this."

Mr Sarkozy said the 10-month freeze "should have been extended to give negotiation a chance. I say this in front of President Abbas: 'settlement must stop'," he said.

Baroness Ashton, the EU's High Representative for foreign affairs, said that as there is no alternative to a negotiated solution " ... it is in everybody's interest to find a satisfactory way for the negotiations to continue and gather momentum."

Direct Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in September after a 20-month hiatus, under the auspices of the United States but without fellow peace Quartet members the EU, Russia and the United Nations.

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