Al-Maliki: Israeli settlements blocking progress
Contrary to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's claim, his Palestinian counterpart believes that Israeli settlement activities are the 'main obstacle' to the peace process, Press TV reported.
"Everyone knows that settlement activities are the basic obstacle and the Israelis are trying to change the facts on the ground," the Palestinian Authority's Foreign Affairs Minister Riyadh al-Maliki said in a statement on Saturday.
He made the comment a day after Lieberman claimed that "Settlements are not an obstacle to achieving peace."
"Lieberman has a twisted vision and analysis about the settlements' issue," al-Maliki added, explaining that settlement expansion was part of a larger Israeli plan to occupy Palestinian land.
Despite Lieberman's claim, the construction of settlements has always been a sticking point in talks between the Palestinian and Israeli officials.
US President Barack Obama has called for a halt to settlement activities which are ongoing in the West Bank and al-Quds-Sharqi (East Jerusalem).
Defying US calls, hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his first major foreign policy address Sunday, stated that the construction would continue in the already existing settlement areas.
The issue is widely viewed as Tel Aviv's plan to engineer the demographic features of al-Quds-Sharqi (East Jerusalem) and Judaize what it calls "the future capital of Israel".
The peace talks have been on hold since Israel launched a three-week-long military offensive against the Gaza Strip last December - an attack that continued through January 2009.
Netanyahu's succession to power also contributed to the freeze in the peace process.
While the Obama administration seems determined to pursue the two-state solution and establish peace in the region, opinion polls suggest that Palestinian and Israeli citizens have 'little hope' that such negotiations would bear fruit.