RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas warned Tuesday of legal and diplomatic action to stop Israeli settlement expansion, on the eve of a new peace mission by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Abbas’s warning came after Israel freed 26 prisoners earlier in the day, as part of US-brokered peace talks, which Kerry hopes to reinvigorate during his visit.
The release prompted celebration among Palestinians, who welcomed the prisoners back into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after they had spent two to three decades in Israeli jails.
But as Kerry geared up for his 10th visit since March, an anticipated announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of further settlement construction looked set to cast a new cloud over the talks.
Abbas warned the Palestinians would take action to halt any such construction in territories they expect to form part of their promised state.
“We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in [annexed Arab east]Jerusalem, and we will use our right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it,” he said.
“These actions show a lack of seriousness on the Israeli side in the negotiations and threaten to destroy the two-state solution.”
Kerry has been pressing the two sides to agree on a framework for a final peace agreement ahead of an agreed late April target date for the talks to conclude.