Palestinian, Russian leaders urge settlement freeze to resume negotiations

By Fares Akram, Xinhua

via Xinhua (click for original)

JERICHO, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday called on Israel to stop building settlements in order to resume stalled peace talks.

"There are two options: negotiations and peace, or violence and terrorism," Abbas told a news conference after his talks with Medvedev in the West Bank city of Jericho, "The Palestinian side will never choose the second option."

The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations halted only weeks after the United States brokered their launch in September last year. The Palestinians walked out of the talks when Israel resumed building settlements in the West Bank and refused to extend a 10- month moratorium on construction.

"The Israelis should choose the way of peace for their benefit, " Abbas said.

Medvedev also agreed that Israel should "freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem" to show commitment to its obligations in order to resume the negotiations.

Russia, together with the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, comprise the Quartet of international mediators observing the Middle East peace process.

Medvedev said that the Quartet is "unsatisfied over the current status of the peace process," adding that the Jewish settlement " blocks any progress from moving forward."

Meanwhile, Medvedev said that Russia supports the Palestinian people's "right in establishing a united, viable and independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

He added that the birth of the Palestinian state "would be a gain for all, including the Palestinians, the Israelis and the Middle East."

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