Abbas says talks over unless Israel halts settlement moves

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Palestinian president Mahmoud 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.

Israel is to build a “record” 20,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, settlement watchdog Peace Now said earlier Tuesday, despite U.S. 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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