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Middle east

Abbas to lobby for Israeli settlement freeze in Washington

Latest update : 2009-05-28

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will discuss halting Israeli settlements in the West Bank in talks this week with US President Barack Obama. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel plans to continue building settlements.

AFP - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Monday Israel's refusal to stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank would be a main talking-point of his trip to Washington later this week.

"This is one of the main issues I take with me to Washington and this is one of the main issues I discussed with Mr. Cannon," Abbas told reporters after talks with Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.

Abbas, who is also to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper later this week before going to Washington for talks with US President Barrack Obama, declined to comment further on the issue.

"We are aware of Mr. Netanyahu's positions and I'm not going to engage on this sensitive subject through the media," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Jewish state would continue to build settlements in the occupied West Bank, despite calls from Washington to stop.

Last week, during Netanyahu's first official visit to key ally the United States, Obama told him that "settlements must be stopped."

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are one of the top stumbling blocks in the stalled Middle East peace process, which Obama has vowed to push forward despite a new largely right-wing government in Israel that backs settlements.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

Abbas also said of Mideast peace initiatives: "I really believe that we have a good opportunity to advance and make comprehensive peace in the region. We don't need to re-invent the wheel."

"Whether it's the Arab peace initiative or the road map or agreements signed, the common denominator is to end Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and to establish a Palestinian state that would live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel."

"We believe that every possible effort should be exerted in order to achieve this endeavor."

Cannon reiterated Canada's position in favor of a "two-state solution."

Date created : 2009-05-27

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