''Retention of these blocs is extremely dangerous because it could invalidate a viable state, which US President George Bush has articulated in his vision," Quraya said on Monday

Bush has declared his determination to enforce a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the US is one of the four co-sponsors of the stalled road map peace plan that sought to create a Palestinian state by 2005.

But in an interview broadcast on Sunday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated that any final Middle East peace deal would have to take into account the biggest Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.

Speaking to Israeli public radio, she said she was clarifying contradictory reports of US policy over the weekend.
 
Support to Israel

Giving his reaction, Quraya said: "These blocs, which the American administration has legitimised by giving its support to Israel, make the creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible."

The West Bank wall cuts deep
into Palestinian territory

On 21 March, Israel vowed to continue building the three largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank - Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem; Gush Etzion, to its south; and Ariel in the northern part of the territory.

Washington has refrained from passing explicit judgement on the expansion activity other than calling on Israel to adhere to the road map, which calls for a halt to all settlement activity.

Taking Ariel as an example, Quraya said the settlement was built 22km deep into Palestinian territory, stressing the extent of the problems posed by the settlements.

Window dressing

The Palestinian prime minister also dismissed recent transfers of security control to  Palestinians in West Bank towns, as promised at a landmark peace summit last month, as mere "window dressing".

Transfers of security control are
'window dressing', Quraya said

"[Palestinian] Finance Minister Salam Fayad went to Tulkarim yesterday but the Israeli army stopped him from entering even though it had announced it was withdrawing from the region," Quraya said.

Last Monday, Israel said it had handed control of the northern district of Tulkarim to the Palestinian Authority after ceding limited control to Palestinian forces in Jericho on 16 March.

On Sunday, public radio reported that Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz had delayed a third planned transfer of control in Qalqiliya, citing Palestinian failures to adhere to security commitments