Senior US Republican Congressman Eric Cantor has said that the world should stop pressuring Israel over its settlement activities.
According to Cantor, the main obstacle to Middle East peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and not the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
"I don’t quite know what is driving the focus on the issue of settlements," Cantor, who is leading a 25-strong delegation of Republican lawmakers on a weeklong visit to Jerusalem (Al Quds), told Israeli public radio on Thursday.
Tel Aviv is under international pressure over its settlement activity to such an extent that even its strongest ally, Washington, has withdrawn its carte blanche support for Israel.
"We share the view with Prime Minister Netanyahu that we do not want to see undue pressure placed on Israel," Cantor explained.
Meanwhile, Cantor pointed out that it is up to the Palestinians to revive stalled peace talks with Israel.
"If we are interested in a two-state solution we have to accept, and the Palestinians have to accept, that Israel is a Jewish state," he said.
Acting Palestinian Authority and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas has so far refused to recognize Israel as "the state of the Jewish people" which means all Arabs (Muslims and Christians) living in Israel should leave the occupied territories.
In an obvious defiance to international calls for freezing the construction of settlements in the Palestinian land, Israel has announced the construction of hundreds of new Jewish homes in the territory, including in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) where the Palestinians consider it as their future capital.
The Palestinians have said time and again that until there is a halt in the settlement building, reviving the mired peace negotiations will be next to impossible.
Israel occupied al-Quds in the 1967 Six-Day war and has rarely given the Palestinian residents any building permissions since then.