Israel approves 1000 new settlements

The Israeli Government has approved up to 1000 new settlements three days before peace talks with the Palestinians resume in Jerusalem.

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Palestinian patience with settlements 'limited'

The chief negotiator for the Palestinian people Saeb Erekat has warned that his country's patience with new settlement building is 'limited' but said that he would not be forced to leave the negotiating table.

"Those who do these things are determined to undermine the peace negotiations, are determined to force people like us to leave the negotiating table," he said in an interview conducted before the announcement of the 1,000 new settlements was revealed.

"We are determined to give this effort of six to nine months every chance it deserves ... it's time for the Israeli government to choose negotiations and show good faith."

1,000 apartments for East Jerusalem and West Bank

The Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel has approved plans to build 1,000 apartments in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Three days before the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are to resume in Jerusalem, plans for nearly 800 apartments in east Jerusalem and nearly 400 in several large West Bank settlements have been approved.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had long insisted he would not resume talks without an Israeli settlement freeze. In the end, he relented under intense U.S. pressure.

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Abbas does not want Israelis in future Palestinian state

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state as he laid out his vision for the final status of Israeli-Palestinian relations ahead of peace talks due to resume in Washington.

U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmoud Abbas. Credit: Thaer Ghannam/AA/ABACAPRESS. COM

Abbas said that and that Palestinians deem all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war illegal.

"In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands," Abbas said in a briefing to mostly Egyptian journalists.

"East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine ... if there were and must be some kind of small exchange (of land) equal in size and value, we are ready to discuss this - no more, no less," he said.

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Obama: 'Hard work' ahead of Middle East peace talks

President Obama described the talks as 'a promising step forward'. Credit: Ron Sachs/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

President Obama says Israeli and Palestinian negotiators face "hard work and hard choices" in direct peace talks set to open in Washington tonight.

The meeting comes after a divided Israeli Cabinet agreed to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners convicted of deadly attacks.

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," Mr Obama said in a statement.

The US president said he believed peace between the two parties was both "possible and necessary."

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