Sydney: Britain and Australia on Tuesday urged Israel to refrain from settlement building on the West Bank and called for a "return to direct talks" between Israel and the Palestinians.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Middle East peace process had featured in today`s summit with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and defence ministers
Liam Fox and Stephen Smith.
"Our joint belief (is) that the parties involved should return to direct talks and refrain from acts that undermine confidence such as settlement building," Hague told reporters.
It follows calls from UN chief Ban Ki-moon yesterday for Israel to freeze settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, after Israeli media reported that
Israel is to approve 1,400 new settler homes.
That push, reportedly into east Jerusalem, is in defiance of pressure to halt settlement building that has stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
The Palestinians halted direct talks with Israel, brokered by the United States, in September after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlement building. Israel says the construction should be an issue discussed in direct talks.