Palestinians slam lawmakers for meeting with Israeli settlements leader

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Dayan reportedly slammed the State Department's long-standing policy of denying loan guarantees to settlement activities in the West Bank — also known as Judea and Samaria — during the meeting.

Dayan, who opposes a two-state solution that is championed by the Obama administration, told lawmakers that Secretary of State John Kerry's effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was dead in the water and only hurts U.S. prestige and national security because a Palestinian state would be taken over by Hamas, which the State Department labels a terrorist group.

More than 650,000 Israelis — including Dayan — live in settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, areas captured after the 1967 war. The settlements are illegal under international law, and President Obama has called them “counterproductive” and said the U.S. does not recognize their “legitimacy.”

The Palestinians say the settlement movement is leading to increased violence and making peace more difficult. The PLO's U.S. representative, Maen Rashid Areikat, has found it nearly impossible to get meetings with lawmakers to make that case in person.

“In June 2013, there were a total of 10 new Israeli settlement activities, including over 2,000 new housing units in Nablus, Bethlehem, and East Jerusalem,” the delegation wrote to lawmakers. “Over 77 incidents of settler violence were also documented in the same period, including the uprooting of olive trees, assaults on Palestinian civilians and property, and the spray-painting of racist graffiti on Palestinian property and holy sites.”

The back-and-forth comes as the European Union announced Wednesday that starting next year, it would no longer sign deals with Israel in the fields of business, science and sport if settlements are involved. The ban doesn't apply to contracts between individual EU member states and Israel.


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