Israeli Housing Ministry's intention to build 240 housing settlement units around Jerusalem on Saturday outraged the Palestinians, who considered the Israeli intention as an indication that it does not want to halt settlement and neglects the Middle East peace process, Xinhua reported.
Chief Palestinian negotiator
Saeb Erekat held Israel responsible for "the collapse" of the peace process and the direct peace negotiations sponsored by the United States which were launched in Washington on Sept. 2. He called on the international community to condemn the Israeli decision.
"We reiterate our position which calls for no direct peace negotiations with Israel as long as the Israeli government continues constructions in the Jewish settlements," Erekat told reporters, adding "Israel must choose between peace and settlement, because both can never meet."
Jamal Muheisen, member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party's central committee, told Xinhua that the Palestinian leadership stressed during a joint meeting that included Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and chaired by Abbas that "no return to talks while settlement continues."
"The Palestinian leadership decided that there will be no direct talks with Israel unless it stops all settlement activities and announces that the Israeli ministry of housing's decision is not active," said Muheisen, adding "the decision is an undermining of all exerted efforts to resume the direct talks."
He added that the meeting held in Ramallah on Saturday decided within the coming few days to study the alternatives to the talks if Israel keeps settlement construction, adding that "these alternatives will be presented to the Arab League following-up committee during its upcoming meeting."
On Oct. 8, AL committee held a meeting in the Libyan city of Sirte and supported the decision of the PLO and Fatah party to halt the peace talks with Israel until it decides to freeze settlement construction. The committee gave the U.S. an additional one-month time to convince Israel to halt settlement.
Meanwhile, Khaleda Jarar, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told Xinhua that the Israeli decision to build up the 240 units "is an Israeli violation of the direct negotiations that were suspended by the Palestinian leadership."
"The United States is apparently aware of the Israeli government's approval of building more units in the settlements and this shows the real American position that supports Israel and shows Washington's silence for the crimes of the occupation that neglects the international laws," said Jarar.
The PFLP, which is the second faction among the seven PLO's factions, announced on Sept. 26 that it suspended its participation in the meetings of the PLO executive committee. Jarar called on the PLO to learn a lesson from the Israeli insistence to continue with settlement.
The Palestinian decision to suspend the direct talks with Israel came after the Israeli government refused to extend a ten- month moratorium on freezing settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Israeli moratorium ended on Sept. 26.
Meanwhile, Qais Abdel Karim, the senior leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), considered the Israeli decision to build more housing units "as the gunshot of execution to the peace process and the peace talks. "
He told Xinhua that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "insists not to freeze settlement, and to resist the international determination which considers settlement illegal and defies the international laws and conventions."
Speaker of the Palestinian National Council (the parliament) in Diaspora Salim Za'noon said in a press statement sent to Xinhua that the international community must interfere and stops Israel's actions and force it to respect the international conventions and laws.
Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip since June 2007, said that the Israeli decision to build more settlement units "is another slap of the face of those who oppose armed resistance against the occupation and still eager for the absurd negotiations with Israel."
Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Radwan told Xinhua that "Israel doesn't believe in the choice of peace and negotiations, therefore we call on the Palestinian negotiators to withdraw immediately from these absurd talks that are useless," adding "we call on them to get back to the choice of armed resistance."
Palestinians outraged by Israel's intention to build 240 settlement units