BRASILIA (AFP) – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is committed to pursuing peace talks with Israel despite the unresolved issue of Israeli settlement building, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said here Tuesday.
“I’ll be talking to president Abbas today … and he is committed to continuing to come to the negotiation because he believes that negotiation is what will resolve this issue,” Kerry said in Brasilia.
“Let me make it clear. The policy of the United States with respect to all settlements, is that they are illegitimate,” he told a press conference after talks with his Brazilian counterpart Antonio Patriota.
“But, that said, [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was completely up front with me and with president Abbas that he would be announcing some additional [settlement] building in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement,” the US chief diplomat said.
Kerry also stressed the “urgency to get into the discussion of borders and security”.
In Colombia on Monday, the U.S. chief diplomat urged Palestinians “not to react adversely” to the Israeli announcement and stressed the need to return to the negotiating table.
With a fresh peace dialogue in its early stages after a three-year hiatus, the approval of almost 1,200 housing units in annexed east Jerusalem and in the West Bank on Sunday infuriated Palestinians.
The plan was swiftly followed by Israel announcing it would release 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners ahead of a resumption of peace talks Wednesday in Jerusalem.