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Gulf leaders back PA stand on settlements

Dec. 7, 2010 3:43 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 8, 2010 4:24 P.M.)
ABU DHABI (AFP) - Gulf leaders threw their support behind the Palestinian Authority's refusal to negotiate with Israel in the absence of a settlement freeze, in a statement Tuesday at the end of their annual summit.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also emphasized that any settlement freeze should include occupied East Jerusalem.

The oil-rich region's Arab leaders underlined both their support for "the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state" and "opposition to a partial settlement or in stages" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They "denounced the Israeli project for making occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) the capital of the Jewish people" and urged the international community to "compel Israel to end its practices aimed at 'Judaising' east Jerusalem."

Newly-relaunched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ran aground at the end of September after the expiry of a temporary Israeli ban on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

The Palestinians say they cannot negotiate while Jewish settlers build on land they want for a future state, but until now Israel has refused to consider a new freeze.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal.
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