Palestinians and Israelis prepare to resume talks


Jerusalem : Palestinians and Israeli negotiators are scheduled to meet here Monday in order to review Israel’s controversial plans to expand construction in the occupied territories, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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The second meeting since last month’s US-backed peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, the delegations are to be led by the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, a senior Palestinian Authority official.

Despite international and Palestinian criticism Israel Sunday announced plans to build more than 1,000 apartments in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move would harm the peace process.

Some 500 apartments are planned for Har Homa, a disputed neighbourhood in northern East Jerusalem, in addition to the 340 apartments whose construction was announced earlier this month, and a further 240 apartments will be built in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

The building plans contradict previous statements by Israeli officials that it does not plan to expand construction in the occupied territories.

Israeli Housing Minister Zeev Boim last week assured US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones that no new Jewish neighbourhood would be built in north Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and has since annexed it, redrawing the city’s municipal boundaries. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.

The Israeli plans to build in the location have aroused a wave of protest and overshadowed last week’s first formal Israeli-Palestinian talks since Annapolis.