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PLO official: Israel not serious about peace talks

Nov. 4, 2013 1:33 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 5, 2013 8:38 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Monday that Israel is not engaging in peace talks with PLO negotiators, the official news agency Wafa reported.

"There is one party negotiating, and that is us, while the other party is not proposing anything that goes in line with international legitimacy and law," Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio.

Israel "responds to us not at the negotiating table, but with its bulldozers, settler hooliganism and all kinds of violations in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque and everywhere else, " he added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will try to salvage peace talks during a visit this week, but as yet there have been no "serious negotiations," Abed Rabbo said.

Israel issued tenders to build 1,859 settler homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem on Sunday, ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now said that issuing building tenders was the last stage in the bureaucratic process and that homes could start going up shortly.

"Within a few months they will choose the winning bids and the successful contractors will be able to start building within a number of weeks (after that)," the group's Hagit Ofran said.

Senior PLO official Wassel Abu Yousef said that the PLO was considering a "mechanism to go the Security Council and the UN against these new Israeli decisions, especially as there are international resolutions that consider settlements illegal."

Whenever Netanyahu makes a small step towards peace, he makes two larger steps to make it harder to get to peace," Peace Now said.

"The tenders that were published today (Sunday) ... will not only make the talks harder but would create facts on the ground that will make the two-state solution much harder.

Peace Now's Ofran said that of the sites offered for sale on Sunday, 700 were in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

Previous plans to build there were announced during a March 2010 visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, sparking outrage in Washington, which had been trying to revive peace talks at the time.

AFP contributed to this report
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