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Erekat: New Israeli settlement building would 'destroy peace process'
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
27/12/2013
Chief PLO negotiator warns PA would apply for membership in 63 int'l organizations, including the ICC, if Israel makes move.
 
The Palestinian Authority said it would plan to appeal the the internationl community, including the International Criminal Court if Israel announces plans for new settlement construction next week follow the third release of Palestinian prisoner as part of an agreement for resuming negotiations.

The Palestinians have said any further expansion of Israeli settlements on land they seek for a state could derail US-brokered peace talks that resumed in July after a three-year break and are set to last until April.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the move would "destroy the peace process" and could be met with retaliation.

"We in the Palestinian leadership would immediately present our application for membership in 63 international organizations, among them the International Criminal Court," the al-Quds newspaper quoted Erekat as saying on Friday.

Israel plans to build 1,400 homes in its settlements in the West Bank and will announce the projects next week after releasing a group of Palestinian prisoners, an Israeli official said on Friday.

Israel has been expected to release about two dozen Palestinians, the third group to be freed since the talks restarted, by the middle of next week and to announce a new settlement push of hitherto undisclosed size shortly after.

The Israeli government official said about 600 homes would be announced in Ramat Shlomo, a settlement of mainly Ultra-Orthodox Jews located in an area of the West Bank.

Another 800 would be built in other West Bank settlements which Israel also plans to keep in any future peace deal, though the list was not yet finalized, the official - who spoke on condition of anonymity - said.

An Israeli official had said on Wednesday that there were plans to announce more construction in Jewish settlements, but gave no figure for the number of new homes.

Palestinians see the settlements as an obstacle to achieving a viable state in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians won an upgrade to their UN status in 2012 from "entity" to "non-member state" in a vote perceived as a de facto recognition of statehood and have threatened to join the International Criminal Court to confront Israel there.

Earlier this year, however, the Palestinians agreed to suspend any actions at the United Nations in exchange for the release of scores of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian inmates convicted of killing Israelis at least 20 years ago as part of the package worked out by Washington to resume talks.

A previous round of negotiations broke down in 2010 in a dispute over settlement construction and since their revival this year, peace talks have shown little sign of progress.
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