A senior negotiator says the Palestinian president has appealed to the US to block plans by Israel
to announce new construction of 1,400 settlement housing units.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said President Mahmoud Abbas
voiced his plea at a late-night meeting with senior US officials Thursday in West Bank.
Abbas "asked for US intervention to stop the Israeli government from issuing new settlement decisions in order to save the peace process and the American efforts," Erekat said Friday. Thursday Abbas met with US Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk in Ramallah.
Israel plans to build a further 1,400 homes in the West Bank, and will announce the projects next week after releasing a group of Palestinian prisoners, an Israeli government official said on Friday.
The Palestinians have said any further expansion of Israeli settlements on land they seek for a state could derail US-brokered peace talks that resumed in July after a three-year break.
Israel has been expected to release about two dozen Palestinian prisoners, the third group to be freed since the negotiations restarted, by the middle of next week and to announce a new settlement push of hitherto undisclosed size shortly after.
The official said about 600 homes would be announced in Ramat Shlomo, a settlement of mainly Ultra-Orthodox Jews located in East Jerusalem.
Another 800 would be built in several other West Bank settlements which Israel also plans to keep in any future peace deal, though the list was not yet finalized, the official – who spoke on condition of anonymity – said.
Israel had agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners, convicted of killing Israelis at least 20 years ago, as part of the package worked out by Washington to resume the peace talks.
A previous round of direct negotiations broke down in 2010 in a dispute over settlement construction, and since their revival this year the peace talks have shown little sign of progress.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report