No breakthrough in peace talks
Ramallah – There has been no breakthrough in talks to salvage peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a top Palestinian official told AFP on Friday after two days of meetings with US and EU officials.
"The American efforts are ongoing but there has been no breakthrough so far because Israel is pursuing settlement activities," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesperson for president Mahmud Abbas.
"President Abbas made it clear to Senator (George) Mitchell that no negotiations will take place as long as the settlement activities are ongoing," he said after Abbas held his second meeting with the US envoy in 24 hours.
Mitchell arrived in the region on Tuesday and has been engaged in four days of intense diplomatic activity in a bid to resolve a looming crisis over Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.
Peace negotiations began just four weeks ago, but Israel's decision not to extend a ban on building new Jewish homes in the West Bank – which expired on Sunday – has brought the talks to crisis point.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior leader with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), told AFP that Israel's insistence on building more settler homes on land the Palestinians want for a future state was tantamount to a rejection of the peace talks.
"Our position has not changed. We consider that Israel's insistence on pursuing settlement activities amounts to a rejection of the negotiations and we hold them responsible for that," he said.