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New east Jerusalem settlements 'major obstacle': Saudi

world Updated: Nov 18, 2009 16:48 IST
AFP
Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said that Israel's decision to build 900 new homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem constituted a "major obstacle" to efforts to restart Middle East peace talks.

"We feel that a settlement is a major obstacle in the way of the peace process ... In east Jerusalem in particular," foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali told AFP when asked about Israel's decision yesterday to expand the Gilo settlement in east Jerusalem.

"Unless there are decisive measures taken in regard to these policies, it is too difficult to advance the peace process," Nugali said.

Mideast regional power Saudi Arabia has insisted that Israel freeze all settlement expansion in the West Bank before it helps revive peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Earlier this year, it rejected requests from Israel and Washington to make a concrete gesture of good will -- one suggestion was to allow overflights of Israeli aircraft -- to entice Israel into peace talks.

Riyadh supports the Palestinian stance that the Palestinians could not enter into any peace talks as long as Israel expands settlements.