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Abbas says talks over unless Israel halts settlement moves

Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on November 5, 2013
Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas speaks during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on November 5, 2013

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warned Tuesday that he would declare the peace process over unless Israel cancelled tenders for nearly 20,000 new settler homes.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP Abbas had tasked him with passing on his ultimatum to the Arab League and the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.

"If Israel does not go back on its latest construction plans for the settlements, that will spell a formal declaration of the end of the peace process," Erakat quoted Abbas as saying in his warning.

Palestinian students light candles to study during a protest against power cuts in Gaza City on November 12, 2013
Palestinian students light candles to study during a protest against power cuts in Gaza City on November 12, 2013

Israel is to build a "record" 20,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said earlier Tuesday, despite US and Palestinian warnings that such moves threaten peace talks.

The negotiations were already in deep trouble after just three months of meetings in the face of previous Israeli settlement expansion moves.

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