Middle East Quartet urges Israel to freeze settlement expansion

The so-called Middle East Quartet on Monday urged Israel to freeze settlement expansion in east Jerusalem.

Middle East Quartet urges Israel to freeze settlement expansion
"The Quartet expressed concern over the announcement of new housing tenders for Har Homa," or Jabal Abu Ghuneim in between east Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the Quartet, which consists of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia, said in a statement.

The Quartet called for all sides to refrain from steps that undermine confidence, and underscored the importance avoiding any actions that could prejudice the outcome of permanent status negotiations, the statement said.

Earlier this month, the Israeli government decided to invite bids to construct 307 housing units in the settlement of Har Homa, a move decried by Palestine as detrimental to the Middle East peace process newly relaunched in the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference.

The Quartet called on both parties to make progress on their obligations, including an Israeli freeze on settlements, removal of unauthorized outposts, and opening of east Jerusalem institutions, and Palestinian steps to end violence, and incitement.

The Quartet met here on the sideline of an international donors' conference hosted by France, which raised 7.4 billion U.S. dollars for aid to Palestine in the next three years.

In the statement issued after the conference, the Quartet welcomed the generous support of the international community, and urged donors to maximize the resources available to the Palestinian Authority.

The Quartet also expressed deep concern over the humanitarian conditions facing the population of the Gaza Strip, which has been under the control of Hamas.

The Quartet emphasized the importance of continued emergency and humanitarian assistance to Gaza "without obstruction" and called for the continued provision of essential services, including fuel and power supplies.

Addressing the international donors' conference, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the increasingly isolated Gaza Strip is already "close to catastrophe," and would head into disaster without international aid, but he reiterated his refusal to have direct dialogue with Hamas.

The Palestinian leader also urged Israel to stop settlement expansion.

"I expect a cessation of all settlement activity without exception and the removal of 127 outposts established since 2001,"Abbas told the conference.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2007, 12:24