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Russia calls on Israel to abandon East Jerusalem building plans

RIA Novosti

16:59 17/10/2011 MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Israel should abandon housing construction plans in East Jerusalem and end settlement activities in the occupied territories, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Israel plans to build more than 2,600 apartments in the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem and later increase the number to 4,200.

"We call on the Israeli government to abandon plans to continue settlement activity in the occupied territories and abstain from steps which [unilaterally] define the status of Jerusalem and the borders of the future Jewish state, which should be determined in negotiations," the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian ministry also said such moves run contrary to Israel's obligations under the internationally agreed road map, under which Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001 from Palestinian territories.

"We are especially concerned by the fact that such moves can have an extremely negative impact on the efforts of the international community, including the Middle East Quartet, to re-launch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks," the statement reads.

Israeli-Palestinian direct peace talks came to a halt in December 2008, when Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in the enclave. The negotiations resumed in the U.S. on September 2, but ended shortly after.

The Palestinians have cited ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as the main obstacle to the peace process.

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