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Steinitz: Freezing settlement construction to extend peace talks not an option

March 4, 2014 09:47

International relations minister dismisses Palestinian demands for continued peace negotiations.

Yuval Steinitz

Yuval Steinitz 370. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed Palestinian demands that in exchange for extending negotiations, Israel must freeze settlement building and release more Palestinian prisoners from jails.

These actions are “not an option,” Steinitz said on Tuesday.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday, during a meeting with Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On, that “the only chance that we will agree to extend the talks will be if Netanyahu declares a settlement construction freeze and the releasing of more prisoners.”

Steinitz told Israel Radio that the Israeli position on diplomatic talks with the Palestinians, as well as on the Iranian nuclear issue, had garnered support from floor leaders of the US Congress.

The leaders of the US Senate and the House of Representatives understand that the main obstacle to peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their own state, he said.

Steinitz, who is accompanying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his trip to the US, added that continued Palestinian incitement against Israel also stood as a hindrance to reaching a peace deal.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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