Palestinians seek settlement freeze

Israeli and Palestinian officials meet for first time since the Annapolis summit.

    Israel's military incursion into the Gaza Strip has injected uncertainty in the peace process [AFP]
    The Palestinians have said that newly announced Israeli plans to build more than 300 apartments in the Har Homa neighbourhood threatened to undermine the talks.
    In Video


    Marwan Barghouti speaks
    out on the peace talks


    Settlement expansion in Har Homa, known to the Palestinians as Abu Ghneim, just north of Bethlehem, in 1997 led to a collapse in peace talks at that time.

    Previously, some Palestinian officials called for a boycott of the meeting after Israel issued a tender for about 300 new homes near Jerusalem on land it annexed - a move not internationally recognised - during the 1967 Middle East war.

    Palestinian outrage

    Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said his delegation "introduced the issue of Har Homa and expressed our outrage".
    In depth


    He said: "If you want to restore the credibility of the peace process, the Israeli government must revoke this order."

    Erekat said the Israelis raised concerns about security issues, including ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
     
    Israel pledged at the Annapolis meeting in November to end settlement activity, but maintains that the building plan, which provoked rare criticism from Washington, is legal.
     
    Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said on Monday she hoped the building plan would not "cloud" peace talks.
     
    Gaza incursions
     
    Palestinians have also accused Israel of attempting to sabotage the peace process after a military operation in Gaza killed at least six Palestinians and left 15 wounded.
     

    Your Views

    "You need a state before you can have a chance at democracy and permanent peace"



    Ed, Los Angeles, USA

    Send us your views

    The incident on Monday was Israel's largest incursion into the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control of the territory in June.
     
    Israel sought to play down the incident, which saw tanks and bulldozers move more than 2km into the enclave, as a routine operation "against the terror infrastructure" in Gaza.
     
    But Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenaz, Israel's army chief, said daily strikes against Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip were having an impact but a big military offensive was becoming more likely.
       
    Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv on security issues, Ashkenaz said though the daily Israeli incursions into Gaza were hurting the Palestinian fighters, the raids would not stop attacks against Israel entirely.

    He said: "We are operating in Gaza on a daily basis. Yesterday we returned from a broad operation ... this brings a reduction in the ground threat and the firing of rockets but does not stop it."

    "We will come to the point where we will have to carry out the big operation."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.