Saeb Erakat
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Erakat Says Quartet Call Requires Settlement Freeze

The Palestinians on Sunday dismissed Israel's welcome of a Quartet call for the resumption of peace talks, saying the peace proposal requires Israel to halt settlement construction.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, speaking to Agence France Presse from Cairo, said a statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was "an exercise in deceiving the international community."

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U.S. 'Deeply Disappointed' by Israel Settler Homes Plan

The United States said Tuesday it was disappointed by Israel's announced plans to build new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.

"We are deeply disappointed," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, adding the U.S. considered the move "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."

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Palestinians Condemn Israeli Settlement Plan

The Palestinians "strongly condemn" an Israeli decision to approve the construction of 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, a Palestinian official told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced the Israeli interior ministry's announcement Thursday that it had given final approval for the construction of 1,600 homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

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U.S. Warns Palestinians on Statehood Bid

The United States on Wednesday warned the Palestinians against seeking U.N. recognition of a future state not first defined in talks with Israel, as a top Palestinian official met with U.S. diplomats.

"We don't see a contradiction between the efforts being exerted to revive the peace process and our bid to go to the U.N.," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters after his talks at the U.S. State Department.

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Obama Meets Abbas, Says Mideast 'Progress' Possible This Year

President Barack Obama Wednesday pledged unwavering commitment to forge significant progress in the Middle East this year, despite the furor whipped up by Israel's raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

Welcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, Obama promised the "full weight" of U.S. diplomacy on the latest crisis and to push Israelis and Palestinians out of a "dead end" and into direct peace talks.

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