'E. J'lem must be included in freeze'

Egyptian FM says negotiations will last only as long as halt to settlement construction held in place.

aboul gheit 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
aboul gheit 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
East Jerusalem must be included in a freeze of settlement activity before Middle East peace talks can restart, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said Friday. Aboul-Gheit told reporters in Stockholm that Jerusalem is Arab "and it will continue to be so." He added that the Arab world expects the area to be included in a moratorium on settlements. The Egyptian foreign minister warned that peace talks would last only as long as a freeze on settlement construction was held in place. "If the Israelis announced that the freeze will last six months, then negotiations will last six months as well," he stressed. US officials have denied reports that Washington has agreed to leave east Jerusalem out of the agreement and settle for a nine- to 12-month freeze in the West Bank. Aboul-Gheit's comments came a day after NGO Ir Amim said that plans to move an additional 750 Jews into Arab areas of east Jerusalem have been advanced throughout the first half of 2009. The process of moving more Jews into such neighborhoods, where there are already about 2,000 Jewish residents, has been accelerated specifically for areas that "lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," according to Ir Amim, a non-profit group that engages Israeli-Palestinian issues in the capital. Abe Selig contributed to this report