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John Kerry Tells Palestinians 'Not to Act Adversely' Over Continued Illegal Settlements

Palestinian official: Settlement expansion "not just deliberate sabotage of the talks, but really a destruction of the outcome."

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat on July 30. A day ahead of the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian "peace talks," Israel announced the approval of 900 new settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. That's on top of Israel's announcement on Sunday permitting the construction of 1,200 new homes in occupied Palestinian land.

But as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sees it, Israel's continued illegal settlement expansion is an "expected" development that Palestinians shouldn't "act adversely" to.

Speaking in Bogota, Colombia on Monday, Kerry said that the expansion was "to some degree expected," and said,  "We have known that there was going to be a continuation of some building in certain places, and I think the Palestinians understand that."

"Once you have security and borders solved, you have resolved the question of settlements. And so I urge all the parties not to react adversely or to provoke adversely, whichever party may do one or the other in any way," he added.

Kerry said that Sunday's announcement of more settlements "underscores the importance of getting to the table quickly," though as Middle East analyst Juan Cole pointed out, "Negotiating with the Israelis over land they are actively stealing is like negotiating with with a glutton over a cake while he is eating it in another room. You might get some crumbs."

On Tuesday, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that the "settlement expansion is unprecedented" and "threatens to make talks fail even before they've started," while Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said the expansion was "not just deliberate sabotage of the talks, but really a destruction of the outcome."

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