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Arab League, Israel Indirect Talks Off

Arab League chief Amr Moussa says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told him he will not enter indirect talks with Israel due to its settlement expansion plan.

Moussa made his remarks Wednesday following an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo.

Arab League delegates said the resumption of peace negotiations depended on Israel halting settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel's announcement Tuesday to build 1,600 Jewish homes in East Jerusalem came shortly after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in the region to promote U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks.

On Wednesday, Biden publicly scolded Israel for its housing expansion plan, saying it is undermining trust after the Palestinians agreed to the U.S.-mediated talks.

The European Union Wednesday urged Israel to reverse its housing decision.

Biden met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday.

The vice president said the U.S. is committed to the creation of a "viable" Palestinian state with contiguous territory. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday he finds the timing of Israel's announcement "unusual." He said the U.S. is talking to the Israeli government to try to understand what happened and why.

Israel's interior minister apologized Wednesday for the timing of the announcement, saying it had embarrassed Biden, who is on a five-day trip to the region. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took no steps to reverse the housing decision.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.