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A new construction site in the Jewish settlement of Modi'In Ilit in the West Bank, on September 14, 2010/AFP

Kenya

Israel to invite bids to build 1,000 settler homes

Shtayeh also called for Washington to take “a firm and clear position to rein in this Israeli attack on the West Bank and especially Jerusalem.”

Israel stood its ground with a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that since the new construction was designated for blocs, it will change “nothing.”

“The construction decided upon today in Jerusalem and in the settlement blocs are in areas that will remain part of Israel in any possible future peace agreement,” Mark Regev said in a statement.

“This is no way changes the final map of peace. It changes nothing.”

Also on Sunday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met US mediator Martin Indyk in Ramallah for talks that centred on the resumption of the peace talks, official Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

It reported that during the meeting Indyk reaffirmed US President Barack Obama’s commitment to back efforts to push ahead with the peace talks within the time frame agreed upon.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, sent a letter during the weekend to US Secretary of State John Kerry to complain about “incitement” from Abbas, according to remarks provided to AFP by an official from his office.

The prime minister was referring to remarks by Abbas published by Egyptian newspapers in July.

Abbas reportedly said that “Palestinians do not want to see any Israeli whether a civilian or a soldier on their lands in any final solution.”

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Referring to the report, Netanyahu wrote Kerry: “Incitement and peace cannot coexist.”

“Rather than educate the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, this hate education poisons them against Israel and lays the ground for continued violence, terror and conflict,” he wrote.

Israel’s chief negotiator in the talks, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, was to meet Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet security agency, later on Sunday to approve a first batch of 26 prisoners to be freed ahead of Wednesday’s talks.

A total of 104 long term Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners, in jail since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords, are to be freed in four stages, depending on progress in the talks.

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