President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman on Sunday criticized Israel’s decision to add 20 settlements to a list for government spending, saying the move impedes peace talks.
“We condemn this Israeli decision and the continuing Israeli policy to place obstacles in front of the US administration’s efforts to advance the peace process,” Nabil Abu Rudeinah said.
The settlements added to the priority list include communities outside the main blocs over which Israel aims to keep control under any peace settlement.
Hundreds of communities in the occupied Palestinian territory figure on the list for public aid in housing, infrastructure, education, cultural activities and security spending.
The Obama administration’s last foray into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ended in failure, when talks launched in September 2010 collapsed just weeks later over continued Israeli settlement building.
Now, after months of shuttle diplomacy, Secretary of State John Kerry has persuaded the two sides to meet for nine months to try to reach a peace agreement.
The latest effort has been met with skepticism, as Israel and the Palestinians remain deeply divided over the so-called “final status” issues that have bedeviled negotiators for two decades.
These include Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees and settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)