Italy Urges Israel Settlement Freeze

Italy urges Israel should expand its partial freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank until a final deal is reached with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Europe has to make a greater effort to convince Tel Aviv "that it is in the best interest of Israel to reach a peace deal," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters on a visit to the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday, AFP reported.

That means Israel needs to extend the moratorium on settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) that expired at the end of September, halting three-week-old peace talks, Frattini stated.

"An ‘extension’ meaning until a final agreement … is reached," he noted.

The PA pulled out of the US-sponsored direct talks with Israel after Tel Aviv ignored its repeated calls on Israel to reinstate the 10-month partial freeze on construction work on occupied Palestinian land.

The PA negotiators argued they cannot hold talks on a two-state deal as long as Israel keeps building settlement units on lands the Palestinians hope to found their future state on.

During Frattini’s meetings with Saudi officials, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the Arab League would take the Palestinian case to the UN Security Council (UNSC) if the impasse lingers on.

A committee of Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Libya gave Israel a one-month deadline before they would take their complaint to the UNSC. The top diplomats are scheduled to meet again after the 30-day period to decide on the next step.

The PA resumed direct negotiations with Israel on September 2 upon an invitation by the US state department, drawing sharp criticism from Palestine’s public and other major factions for "surrendering to US and Israeli pressure."

(Press TV)

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