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Israeli settlements harming chances for two state-solution: Mideast Quartet

The Quartet held a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 September, 2016

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The group of diplomats, which includes the US, UN, EU and Russia, said Israeli settlement activity is an obstacle to the peace process.
The international diplomatic "quartet" of Mideast peacemakers said on Friday it strongly opposed Israel's ongoing settlement activities, warning it risked chances of peace with the Palestinians.

The Quartet, which held a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, called on Israel to halt settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territories. 

The top diplomats of the EU, Russia, UN and US urged both sides to create conditions for restarting "meaningful" negotiations toward a two-state solution.

"The Quartet emphasised its strong opposition to ongoing settlement activity, which is an obstacle to peace, and expressed its grave concern that the acceleration of settlement construction and expansion ... [is] steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution," the Quartet said in a statement.

The diplomats were also joined by the foreign ministers of Egypt and France, whose countries have each proposed ideas to restart talks.

Washington, in particular, has been hesitant to endorse a French role on what has traditionally been US diplomatic turf.

But with the conflict on the ground only getting worse, the US has agreed to welcome fresh ideas.

Last month Washington expressed "deep concerned" following an announcement that Israel had approved the construction of 463 homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The approvals mostly involved new housing units, but a retroactive green light was also granted to 179 existing homes in the Ofarim settlement, said the Peace Now organsation.

Israel has also just secured a historic, 10-year $38 billion military aid package from the US, drawing a line under years of fractured relations with President Barack Obama stemming partly in White House perceptions that Netanyahu is reluctant to broker peace.

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