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Abbas: settlement issue is our top concern
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13:28, September 17, 2009

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday evening that Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank is the Palestinian people's top concern, and they determined to stay in their country.

Abbas made these remarks in a Ramadan breakfast with Palestinian Moslem clerics and diplomats in his Ramallah headquarters. He also stressed that one of the major concerns is the expelling of people from their homes in Jerusalem.

"We face all these concerns everyday, mainly the construction into settlement. These concerns make us cling to our principles of staying in our country," said Abbas.

U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell, who arrived in the region on Sunday and held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, had failed to reach a compromise on settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Mitchell decided to extend his stay in the region, hoping that a compromise on freezing settlement would be reached with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier on Wednesday that no deal has yet been reached on the issue.

Israel insists to construct into existing Israeli settlement, considering it is the natural growth, while Abbas and other Palestinian leaders insist not to resume peace talks with Israel until it halts settlement activities.

"All what we want is to establish our independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital and live side-by-side with the state of Israel," said Abbas.

He went on saying that "we just want our legitimate right based on the international resolutions."

After Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, Israel built dozens of settlements on these territories.

"In order to have a just, comprehensive and everlasting peace, Israel has to withdraw from the occupied Arab and Palestinian territories." said Abbas.

Source: Xinhua

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