TEHRAN (Tasnim) – US Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed his country’s opposition to Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian territories, calling them illegitimate and urging Israel to halt new settlement construction.
Kerry’s comments on Wednesday came after he met Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
“Let me emphasize that the position of the United States is that we consider now, and have always considered, the settlements to be illegitimate,” he said.
He added that there was no deal that the Palestinians recognized the illegal settlements in return for peace. “I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree, as a matter of going back to the talks, that they could somehow condone or accept the settlements,” he said.
Earlier in the day, after meeting the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, in occupied al-Quds (Jerusalem), he acknowledged the so-called peace talks had run into difficulties, Al Jazeera reported.
Kerry had first met Wednesday with Netanyahu, who denounced the Palestinians for threatening to quit the talks over Israel’s continued settlement construction on land they want for their future state.
The Israeli premier told Kerry, who is on his seventh visit to Israel and the West Bank since February, he was “concerned about the progress” of the talks, accusing the Palestinians of fabricating reasons to avoid making tough decisions.
“I see the Palestinians… continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began a fresh round of talks in July.
Last Palestinian-Israeli talks had broken down in September 2010 after Tel Aviv refused to freeze its settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.
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