Abbas demands a freeze on all settlement activity

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday publicly demanded a freeze on all Israeli settlement activity at the launch of landmark US-mediated peace talks at the White House.

“We also reiterate our commitment to carry out our obligations and we call on Israelis to carry out their obligations including a freeze on all settlement activities,” Abbas said at the White House.

He said the demand was not a “precondition” to direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which open here on Thursday, but a goal to implement an “agreed obligation.”

Abbas also called for an end to all Israeli closures and blockades, preventing freedom of movement for Palestinians.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said there had been no change to Israeli policy, which would allow a current partial freeze on West Bank settlement building to expire at the end of this month.