Ma'an News Agency
September 28, 2010 - 12:00am

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- US envoy George Mitchell will hold meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week to discuss the consequences of Israel's decision not to extend a temporary moratorium on settlement building.

The US administration is "disappointed" at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Crowley praised the "restraint" of the Palestinian response to resumed building.

Settlement construction resumed across the West Bank as a 10-month partial moratorium on settlement expansion expired on Sunday. So far, Netanyahu has refused to extend restrictions.

Abbas has said he would withdraw from talks if Israel resumed full-scale construction on occupied land which would be a Palestinian state in a two-state agreement.

But Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told Ma'an radio on Monday that Abbas would wait for Israel's final response on restricting settlement activity before making a decision on whether to remain in talks.

Expressing regret at Israel's decision, EU envoy Catherine Ashton said she had spoken to Mitchell and Quartet envoy Tony Blair on Monday, and would speak shortly to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas.

In a statement, Ashton reiterated the Quartet's request that Israel complied with previous agreements, including the Roadmap, which called for a total freeze in settlement activity.

"The position of the EU is very clear: settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," the statement said.

Ashton urged both parties to act responsibly, and said there is "no alternative to a negotiated solution."


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