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France calls for end to Israeli settlements

President Hollande, meeting PA leader Abbas in Ramallah, demands "full and complete halt" to settlement activity.

Last updated: 18 Nov 2013 17:42
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Hollande reaffirmed his commitment to the two-state solution despite Israeli settlement building [AFP]

French President Francois Hollande has called for a complete halt to Israel's illegal settlement activities on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Speaking on his first official visit to the Palestinian territories on Monday, the French leader said that settlement construction was problematic for the negotiations, which have been limping along for more than three months with little sign of progress.

"France demands a full and complete halt to settlement activity," he said oat a joint news conference in Ramallah with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.

"Settlement activity complicates the negotiations and makes it difficult to achieve a two-state solution," Hollande said.

Since Israeli and Palestinian negotiators returned to the table at the end of July, Israel has made several announcements of thousands of new settler homes, angering the Palestinian negotiators.

But Abbas on Sunday told AFP news agency that talks with Israel would continue for the full nine months agreed with Washington "regardless of what happens on the ground".

In talks with the Israeli leadership on Sunday, Hollande said France expected the government to make "gestures" with respect to settlement construction, although he did not indicate exactly what that might involve.

"If you want peace, you need to have gestures towards peace," he said.

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