Abbas urges US to respond to Israeli settlements

Abbas urges US to respond to Israeli settlements Ramallah: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called on the US administration on Monday to "respond" to the continuation of Israeli settlement activity after indirect peace talks were launched.

"The American administration must respond to those Israeli acts," he said, adding that Washington had promised to the Palestinians a halt to Jewish settlement in the West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

"It must respond," he said. The US State Department said yesterday both sides were taking measures "conducive to successful talks," and that Israel had explained there would be no construction at east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo settlement for two years.

But Israel insisted it had made no commitment to freeze settlement activity in east Jerusalem.

The announcement earlier this year that 1,600 settler homes would be built at Rama Shlomo held up the start of the talks, whose launch was eventually announced yesterday.

Israel said it is normal procedure for construction at Ramat Shlomo to start a few years after the initial plan was approved.