Ireland regrets Israeli decision to not extend settlement freeze

Ireland regrets Israeli decision to not extend settlement freeze

Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin said on Monday he regretted the Israeli government's decision not to extend the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction activity in Palestinian territory, Xinhua reported.

Echoing the statement made earlier on Monday by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, the foreign minister made the remarks as he addressed the annual general debate of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly.

"There could be no greater single confidence building measure and practical demonstration of commitment to peace than a decision to desist from all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," he said.

As Israel's failure to extend the 10-month settlement freeze that expired on Sunday threatens to derail an already fragile peace process, Martin urged "all parties to refrain from any actions which could endanger the negotiation process."

Palestinian and Israeli leaders resumed direct negotiations in Washington earlier this month. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had previously threatened to withdraw from the talks if Israel continues settlement construction activity.

"It is vital that every effort is made to keep the process intact. Our own experience in the Northern Ireland peace process has shown that political progress can only be achieved through dialogue," said Martin.

"Maximum restraint for the duration of these talks, which are intended to be and should be completed within twelve months, would be a small price for lasting peace," he added.

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