Egypt condemns resumption of settlement building in Jerusalem

Egypt on Saturday condemned Israeli plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem, describing the decision as "provocative."

Hossam Zaki, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said, "It seems that the Israeli side retreats day after day from fulfilling its commitments and promises within efforts to achieve peace.”

He added that Egypt sees the step as a negative response to the effort exerted to save the peace process, and as a sign that the peace negotiations may be doomed to fail. Zaki said that Egypt holds the Israeli government responsible for the current situation, and calls on the US, the International Quartet and the UN Security Council to intervene.

The US, for its part, expressed disappointment over the Israeli plans, adding that the move goes against US efforts to give momentum to the stalled peace talks.

Philip J.Crowley, spokesperson for the US State Department, said the US will continue to create the right conditions for the resumption of direct peace talks.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the international Elders conflict resolution group arrived yesterday in Gaza in a bid to support peace efforts.

The delegation is chaired by former Irish President and current United Nations UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, former Algerian Foreign Minister al-Akhdar al-Ibrahimi, and Ela Bhatt, an Indian women's right activist.

During its day trip to Gaza, the delegation is set to visit various facilities belonging to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, as well as meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, head of the dissolved Hamas government, and representatives of Palestinian rights groups.

In other news, an Egyptian security source denied that Egypt intends to prevent certain Hamas leaders from crossing via the Rafah border crossing into Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj. It added that Egypt has not in the first place received a list of Hamas leaders wishing to perform the Hajj this year.

Regarding Hamas-Fatah reconciliation efforts, an informed Palestinian source said that Fatah is examining the possibility of changing the location of its reconciliation meeting with Hamas from Damascus to Beirut.

The same source said the reason for this is an argument between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Syrian counterpart during a closed session of the emergency Arab League summit held in the Libyan city of Sert.

Mohamed Barakeh, an Arab MP in the Israeli Knesset, said he has received reassurances from Abbas that no agreement will be signed allowing a population transfer of Israel's Arab citizens or recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

He added that the Palestinian leadership upholds the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

In related news, Barakat al-Farra, Palestinian Authority ambassador to Egypt, condemned an attack launched by the Israeli military on prominent Islamic figures, including Ekrema Sabri, the head of the higher Islamic authority, and Hatem Abdel Qader, a prominent Fatah leader, during their protest in East Jerusalem.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.


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