The Palestinians have said that if Jewish settlement building continues in the occupied
West Bank they will exit forthcoming peace talks with the Israelis [EPA]

More than 150 Israeli academics have said that they will cease to work in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The announcement in a letter released on Sunday came after 57 Israeli actors and playwrights signed a boycott refusing to perform in the Jewish settlements, which the group of academics said they supported.

The academics said that agreeing to the settlements caused "critical" damage to Israel being able to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

The group said that it wanted to remind the Israeli public that all settlements are in occupied territory.

"Legitimatisation and acceptance of the settler enterprise cause critical damage to Israel's chances of achieving a peace accord with its Palestinian neighbours," it said.

Peace talks

The academics said that they would not engage in any form of cultural activity or lecture in the occupied West Bank.

US-sponsored peace negotiations are set to begin on Thursday between Israel and the Palestinians.

Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, criticised the decision by the actors boycott, also announced on Sunday.

"The last thing we need at this time, when we are under such assault, is a boycott attempt from within ourselves," Netanyahu said.

The actors decided to boycott performing in the settlements after the Israeli government laid plans to build a theatre, to open in November this year, in the settlement of Ariel.

The group called for six major theatre companies to work only within Israel as defined by international law according to the division of land at the end of the 1967 war.

The Palestinians have threatened to leave forthcoming peace talks if Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank continues.

More than 500,000 Jews live in settlements within the occupied West Bank deemed illegal by international law.

Source: Agencies