On her latest peacemaking trip to the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice has criticised Israel’s continued settlement building.
Her host in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called settlements “the highest hurdle” to a deal with Israel.
The US Secretary of State said:
“Unfortunately I do believe, the United States believes, that the action and the announcements that are taking place are indeed having a negative effect on the atmosphere for negotiatiation and that is not what we want. We should be in a position of encouraging confidence, not undermining it.”
She spoke out after Israel said it planned to build 1,300 new homes in the occupied West Bank in an area it considers part of Jerusalem.
Exactly a year after its fighters seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’s secular Fatah forces, Hamas said “nothing good could come from Rice’s visit.”
Egypt is trying to broker a ceasefire between the Islamist group and Israel whose leaders Rice is also meeting on what is her sixth trip to the region this year.