Israeli settlements destroy peace talks: Egypt FM
Protesters hold Palestinian flags as they stand next to Israeli soldiers and border policemen during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jabaa - REUTERS
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CAIRO: Illegal Israeli settlements contradict international law and United Nations resolutions in a fundamental obstacle destroying efforts to resume peace talks, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a Monday statement.

Egypt condemns Israeli plans to build 64 new settlement units in the occupied East Jerusalem, and to expand four settlements in the occupied West Bank, the statement said.

The statement reiterated Egypt’s support for the establishment of “an independent Palestinian state on the entire Palestinian national soil with the capital of East Jerusalem.”

Whether Egypt would mediate peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis is uncertain.

A Palestinian protester argues with Israeli soldiers during a protest against what Palestinians say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements, in the West Bank village of Silwad near Ramallah February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A Palestinian protester argues with Israeli soldiers during a protest against what Palestinians say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements, in the West Bank village of Silwad near Ramallah February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A source close to Qassam Brigades told Reuters Jan. 31 that Cairo “is no longer a mediator in Palestinian-Israeli matters,” in response to a court ruling listing the group as a “terrorist organization.”

The activities of Hamas within Egypt were banned by a court in March 2014. Egypt’s relations with Hamas worsened after the group decided to rule Gaza Strip unilaterally in 2007, but have become substantially strained since the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The Palestinian Authority, however, has pursued international recognition in recent years after decades of failed negotiations with Israel. The resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood did not garner enough votes at the United Nations in December 2014, in addition to a U.S. veto.

An Israeli border policeman fires a tear gas canister towards Palestinian protesters during a protest against what Palestinians say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements, in the West Bank village of Silwad near Ramallah February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

An Israeli border policeman fires a tear gas canister towards Palestinian protesters during a protest against what Palestinians say is land confiscation for Jewish settlements, in the West Bank village of Silwad near Ramallah February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

However, the U.N. announced Jan. 7 that Palestine would become a member of the International Criminal Court in April, a move being strongly resisted by Israel.  Palestine was also accepted as a United Nations non-member observer state in 2012.

The establishment of the 64 new units was announced Sunday, as part of Israel’s consistent strategy to build Jewish settlements on occupied lands since it annexed swathes of Arab territories in the 1967 Six-Day war.

Those lands, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank, are internationally recognized occupied, announcing the establishment of the new 64 settlements Sunday.

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