June 24, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Thursday that the Israeli measures in East Jerusalem jeopardize the peace process.

"The Israeli practices in East Jerusalem hinder peace talks," Abbas told a press conference here with the visiting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.

The Palestinian president was apparently referring to Israel's recent plan to demolish Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem for the purpose of settlement construction.

"Israel should realize that it is setting obstacles against the peace process," Abbas said, adding "its actions in Jerusalem put peace efforts in danger."

Under the plan, which was approved by the municipality of Jerusalem, 22 Palestinian houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan will be torn down as part of a project to erect an entertaining area.

The Israeli plan was slammed by the United States, which said such a step "undermines the trust fundamental to progress in the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority."

In May, the Palestinians agreed to go for U.S.-sponsored indirect negotiations with Israel after the direct talks stopped in 2008.

The Palestinians believe that to ensure the success of the talks, Israel has to fully halt settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem which they want as a future capital.

Abbas urged the Israeli government to work swiftly to reach a two-state solution, expressing his readiness to head for final status negotiations with Israel to achieve this goal.

He also called for a full lifting of the three-year-long blockade imposed by Israel on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017