Israel delays announcement on settlement

Updated: 2014-01-02 10:26


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JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday postponed a planned announcement of more than 1,000 new housing units in the settlements until after US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the region, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

According to the daily, a senior official in Israel said Netanyahu convinced Housing Minister Uri Ariel to postpone the announcement to prevent an embarrassment to the Israeli government amid Kerry's visit which would attempt to salvage the deteriorating peace talks.

"Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry's eye," the daily quoted the official as saying. "On this matter, there is full coordination between the prime minister and the housing minister," he added.

Kerry is set to arrive in the region on Wednesday night, and will hold meetings with both Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to create a framework for an interim agreement.

The peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been suffering disagreements and neared an explosion over Israel's security requirements, among others to station Israeli soldiers in the Jordan Valley in eastern West Bank and its continuing construction in the settlements.

It was also shadowed by recent militant attacks in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed and an Israeli Defense Ministry worker shot to death while working on the Gaza Strip-Israeli border fence. At least four Palestinians died as part of the clashes, which defense officials in Israel referred as "isolated incidents."

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July, 2013 after a three-year halt, due to Israel's continuing settlement construction.