Last updated: 5 November, 2013

Palestinians: No talks with Israel while settlement grows

The Palestinians cannot continue peace talks with Israel if Jewish settlement on the occupied West Bank keeps expanding, a senior Palestinian official told AFP Tuesday.

“The Israeli side is determined to continue its settlement and we cannot continue negotiations under these unprecedented settlement attacks,” he said on condition of anonymity after a stormy meeting of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

“The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations broke down during the session on Tuesday night,” the official said, as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jerusalem to try to revive the fragile peace process.

Kerry will meet Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Despite nearly 20 meetings between the sides over the past three months, Palestinian officials and Israeli media are warning that the talks could end in failure unless Kerry intervenes to get them back on track.

Peace talks resumed in late July after a three-year freeze, following the breakdown of previous negotiations over the settlement issue.

The latest round of US shuttle diplomacy finds Palestinians once again enraged at growing Israeli settlement construction, and complaining of lack of Israeli clarity on where the borders between them should run.

The Palestinians insist borders should be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel seized Gaza and the West Bank, including Arab east Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible”, saying it would not take into account the “demographic changes on the ground” — a clear euphemism for Jewish settlements.