Abbas not to participate in direct talks with Israel if settlement constructions continues

Abbas not to participate in direct talks with Israel if settlement constructions continues

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not participate in direct talks with Israel, if it continues settlement constructions on the Palestinian territory, Saib Arikat, a head of the process of negotiations with Israel, said, RIA Novosti reported.

Abbas is planning to send a letter to the Quartet of mediators, where he will confirm what the continuation of the settlements construction will mean the cancellation of the talks.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington on September 2 to relaunch negotiations on peace settlement.

"The main thing for the Palestinian side is a termination of the Israeli settlement activity on the whole Palestinian territory, including [Eastern] Jerusalem," Arikat said adding that a refuse to stop the constructions will mean the failure of the talks.

The League of Arab States expressed its concerns that another attempt to settle peace on the Middle East will fail because of the Israeli government's positions.

Israel and Palestinians agreed to start direct peace talks in Washington in early September.

The Quartet of mediators in the Middle East peace process, comprising Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, issued a similar call on Friday. It also urged the Israeli and Palestinian sides to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and show mutual restraint.

The Israeli premier on Friday signaled his readiness to attend the talks, adding that although reaching a deal would be difficult, it was possible.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Abbas, warned that ongoing Israeli settlement activity "consequently threatens the continuity of direct Negotiations."

Israeli government has not yet confirmed it is ready to extend a moratorium on settlements construction.

Israeli-Palestinian direct peace talks came to a halt in December 2008, when Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in the enclave. The conflict left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

The Palestinians have so far cited ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as the main obstacle to resuming peace talks.

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