U.S. sees Israeli settlement as "illegitimate": Kerry

U.S. sees Israeli settlement as "illegitimate": Kerry
# 06 November 2013 20:12 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said here Wednesday that Washington considers Israeli settlement building on the occupied Palestinian lands as "illegitimate," APA reports quoting Xinhua

"Let me emphasize that the position of the United States is that we consider now and have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate," Kerry told reporters after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, the West Bank.

Kerry added that Abbas showed that he is ready to make concessions and accept compromises to reach a just solution and peace.

The top U.S. diplomat is in the Mideast region to push forward the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which were resumed after almost three years of halt under his own mediation.

He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Wednesday and will visit Jordan on Thursday.

Palestinian officials have said the negotiations have made no progress, slashing Israel for its continued announcements of new housing units to be built in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

When touring Bethlehem ahead of the meeting with Abbas, Kerry said Washington seeks peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution, calling on the two sides to accelerate their negotiations.

Prior to his meeting with Abbas, dozens of Palestinians demonstrated outside the presidency's Bethlehem headquarters against Kerry's visit. The protesters raised banners in Arabic and English saying that the settlements "kill the two-state solution."

In Gaza, the Islamic Hamas movement also criticized the visit, saying that Kerry was unwelcome in the Palestinian territories.

"Kerry has to know that the current negotiations do not express the Palestinian people' will and that Mahmoud Abbas is unauthorized to hold any negotiations or to reach any results," Hamas' spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Kerry announced a 75-million-U.S. dollar grant for Palestinian infrastructure projects.