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Quartet 'concerned' by Israeli settlement move

Aug. 16, 2011 8:18 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 17, 2011 9:49 A.M.)
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations on Tuesday attacked Israel's move to build new Jewish-only housing in the West Bank as a threat to peace efforts.

"The Quartet is greatly concerned by Israel's recent announcements to advance planning for new housing units in Ariel and east Jerusalem," the four said in a statement.

"This comes at a critical juncture with Quartet efforts ongoing to resume negotiations which are the only way to a just and durable solution to the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict," added the statement.

Efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to direct talks have been deadlocked since September last year when Israel ended a moratorium on settlement building.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday gave the green light to build 277 new homes in Ariel, a Jewish settlement inside the occupied West Bank. More than 2,700 new settler homes have now been approved by Israel in the past two weeks, prompting a furious response from the Palestinian leadership.

Israel is in turn angry at Palestinian plans to possibly seek full United Nations membership at the UN General Assembly in September.

"The Quartet reaffirms that unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community," said the statement.

"Jerusalem in particular is one of the core issues that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties, which underscores the urgent need for the parties to resume serious and substantive talks," the international powers added.

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