Israeli PM orders ministers to stop meeting with Palestinians

Israeli PM orders ministers to stop meeting with Palestinians

PanARMENIAN.Net - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered cabinet ministers to stop meeting with their Palestinian counterparts, a government official said, hours after the U.S. blamed Israel for the breakdown of peace talks, Bloomberg reports.

Israeli government officials have been told to refrain from meeting their Palestinian counterparts because the Palestinians violated commitments made under the peace talks, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss diplomacy for the record.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry charged Tuesday, April 8, that the announcement of 708 new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem derailed eight months of Mideast peace talks.

While Kerry said both sides took “unhelpful actions,” some Israeli officials fumed at his suggestion that Israel’s April 1 announcement of settlement construction brought the talks to collapse.

“Israel will never apologize for building in Jerusalem,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Jewish Home party is the third-biggest faction in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, said in a Facebook post. “Construction in Jerusalem is no ‘poof,’ construction in Jerusalem is Zionism,” said Bennett, whose pro-settlement faction controls the Housing Ministry and opposes any peace deal that creates a Palestinian state.

Kerry is due to meet Wednesday in Washington with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said last week that “Israel has done all that it can to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, and the ball is now in their court.” Lieberman has been in New York this week for a conference. Kerry’s efforts have received some support in Netanyahu’s government from parties who support talks to reach a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

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