Palestinians mull boycotting talks over settlement construction

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian side is mulling to boycott the upcoming round of direct peace talks with Israel in protest against a recent Israeli decision to build 1 200 housing units on occupied lands in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the top Palestinian negotiator said yesterday. “There are discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas over not joining the second round of negotiations, slated for tomorrow in the West Bank city of Jericho,” Saeb Erekat told Xinhua.

The settlement construction will take place in lands Israel has occupied in 1967 in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are parts of the territory the Palestinians seek as a future state.

The decision comes as the United States succeeded in spurring the two sides to resume their peace talks after a three-year freeze. The negotiations are meant to reach a deal on a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“The settlement plans contradict the principle of confidence and goodwill that the resumption of negotiations should have provided,” Erekat said. — AP

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