Abbas: 'Israel expansion main hurdle to deal'

Abbas will meet later in the day with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who could be forced to step down in a growing corruption scandal.

Abbas: 'Israel expansion main hurdle to deal'
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said before meeting Israel's prime minister on Monday that settlement expansion, including newly announced building, was the main hurdle to a statehood deal.

Israel disclosed plans on Sunday to construct nearly 900 new buildings in areas of the occupied West Bank despite U.S. and Palestinian calls to stop all settlement expansion.

"If Israel does not halt these activities, it will be difficult to reach the political settlement," Abbas said at a news conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Abbas will meet later in the day with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who could be forced to step down in a growing corruption scandal. Olmert has denied any wrongdoing but says he will resign if indicted.

Olmert will leave later on Monday for Washington for a three-day visit where he will meet U.S. President George W. Bush.

The 2003 peace "road map" requires a halt to all settlement activity on occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood.

Abbas said of the building announcement: "We believe that these measures will be the biggest hurdle in the path of the peace process."

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2008, 18:03
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