Israeli PM says position on settlement freeze "unchanged"

09:57, September 06, 2010      

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks during a press conference about the Middle East peace talks as U.S. President Obama looks on at the East Room of the White House in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Sept. 1, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel's position on a unilateral settlement construction freeze, set to end on Sept. 26, "remains unchanged."

He made such a comment during a meeting with government ministers from his Likud party after he returned from the direct peace talks with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington.

Netanyahu's coalition partners and settler groups are campaigning hard to restart settlement construction, and have embarked on a billboard campaign in the West Bank featuring quotes by Netanyahu and other government officials promising to renew construction.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom called on Netanyahu to hold a high-level discussion on the building moratorium. The Palestinians said that they would walk away from talks if Israel resumes construction.

"I very much hope that this conversation and the others that will come will allow us to open a direct, continuous and reliable link, which is essential to our ability to formulate a peace settlement between our two peoples," Netanyahu said Sunday at a weekly cabinet session.

Netanyahu and Abbas are scheduled to meet for their next face- to-face talks on Sept. 14 in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el- Sheikh. However, lower-level sessions are expected to be held soon.

"We will need to think creatively, and in new ways, about how to resolve complex problems," Netanyahu said.

Source: Xinhua

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