Accessibility links

Breaking News

Israel's Foreign Minister Vows to Block Settlement Slowdown

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says his party will block any attempts by the government to extend a partial construction freeze on settlement building in the occupied West Bank that is set to expire later this month.

Lieberman told Israel Radio Monday that his ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party has enough power in the government to make sure no such extension succeeds.

Many members of Mr. Netanyahu's party also oppose any extension. The 10-month freeze is set to end on September 26.

The issue of settlement construction threatens to derail Middle East peace talks, which restarted this month after a nearly two-year hiatus.

Palestinian leaders say they will quit the peace talks if construction resumes.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders will continue the talks in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, on September 14 and in Jerusalem on September 15.

A U.S. State Department official said Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell will take part in the negotiations.

Jerusalem has long been the focus of major differences between Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis want Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their proposed state.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, rejects the peace talks and has vowed to continue attacks against Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.