Palestinians blast US shift on settlements

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Palestinians blast US shift on settlements

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Washington’s decision to drop its demand for a new freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been slammed by the Palestinians.

Peace talks are now in crisis according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinians are insisting on a halt to settlement building. But Israel’s refusal to renew a partial freeze has put hopes of a deal on hold.

“It is completely unfortunate that the American efforts to convince Israel to stop the expansion of settlements are not successful,” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

The settlement issue has scuppered President Obama’s desire for a rapid US-led peace deal.

Israel says it is still committed to reaching an accord.

“Israel remains determined in our commitment to continue the effort to achieve an historic peace agreement with the Palestinians, an agreement that brings a genuine reconciliation between the two peoples,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

The country has however slammed Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay over moves to recognise a Palestinian state based on its pre-1967 borders. Israel said this was “regrettable” and “highly damaging” to the peace process.