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Washington accuses Israeli housing minister of deliberately sabotaging peace talks

US officials have accused Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel of deliberately sabotaging the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks after he unexpectedly announced a tender to build 700 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday.

According to the newspaper, a top US official believes that Ariel, who is responsible for Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, did his best to sabotage US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to expand talks beyond the April deadline by announcing the tender at this time.

Ariel also candidly announced that he rejected the release of the American agent for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, from prison in exchange for releasing Palestinian prisoners. He has repeatedly told mass media that even Pollard himself rejects being released in what he calls a “disgraceful deal”, because the Palestinians are “murderers” and have “tainted” hands.

The US official was reported by Haaretz as saying that the sudden announcement of a new settlement tender in occupied East Jerusalem during the peak time of talks has greatly harmed the situation and pushed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to turn to the UN.

On Wednesday, Ariel also called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the Oslo Accords, claiming that the Palestinians are guilty of “breaking all the rules and commitments,” adding that: “The Palestinians have proven once again that there is no reason to give them false gestures and release terrorists and murderers for a process with a predictable ending.”

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