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Mideast Negotiators Deadlocked Over Settlement and Security

By VOA News
25 December 2007


Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have held a round of talks on Middle East peace issues, but officials said they made no headway Monday because the Palestinians refused to discuss core issues until Israel agrees to stop building settlements in the Jerusalem area.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the encounter was very difficult.

The Palestinians called on Israel to uphold the part of the 2003 roadmap peace plan calls for Israel to cease settlement activity in occupied territory.

Israeli officials responded that the roadmap also calls for Palestinians to rein in militants in the occupied West Bank and in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip. Israel says the Palestinians have not yet fulfilled that obligation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will meet later this week to discuss the peace process.

Egyptian and Palestinian officials have strongly criticized Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in Israeli-occupied areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel unveiled proposals Sunday to build 740 apartments in East Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood and the Maaleh Adumim settlement just outside Jerusalem.

Israel says it has a right to build in Jerusalem and major West Bank settlements to accommodate what it calls the "natural growth" of communities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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