Israel's Settlement Activities Negative Development - Marcoullis
NICOSIA - Israel's expansion of settlement activities in Gilo, East Jerusalem are a negative development as they will create more obstacles to the prospect of direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel, said Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis.
"I really hope that the government of Israel will reconsider this decision and end all settlement activities," said Dr. Marcoullis.
It is of utmost importance that Israelis and Palestinians resume direct negotiations within timelines outlined by the Middle East Quartet, she said.
"I strongly share the Quartet’s appeal that the parties refrain from provocative actions, if direct negotiations are to be effective," said Marcoullis.
Earlier this week, the Israeli government approved 1100 new apartments in Gilo, which is disputed territory beyond the Green Line separating Israel and Palestine. The decision was condemned by the Arab League, which described it as proof of Israel's lack of desire for peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended his decision, saying that Gilo is not a settlement but a "neighborhood in the very heart of Jerusalem."
Gilo stays part of Jerusalem and "therefore this planning decision in no way contradicts" the current Israel government's desire for peace, said a spokesman for Netanyahu in comments reported by the Jerusalem Post.