France urges Israel to reconsider new settlement plans

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France said on Saturday that is "deeply disappointed" with Israel's plans to resume building homes for settlers in east Jerusalem, and urged the Israeli government to reconsider.

"This decision is inopportune. France is deeply disappointed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.

"France calls on the Israeli authorities to reconsider this decision," the spokesman said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos had called on Israel to stop settlement building during a visit earlier this week, the spokesman said.

Israel announced plans to build 238 new homes in east Jerusalem on Friday, provoking anger from the Palestinian Authority and criticism from Washington.

Middle East peace talks launched in early September by the US ground to a halt within weeks after the expiry of a 10-month moratorium on the construction of new settler homes.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has refused to hold further negotiations while settlement construction in the West Bank continues and last week Arab League foreign ministers gave US negotiators a month to resolve the impasse.

© 2010 AFP

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