Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that the ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank has become "a time bomb" that puts the peace process in danger, in a special message read at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday night.
The Palestinian leader called for the deteriorating peace talks to be addressed immediately, declaring "this requires bringing a decisive and final end to the vicious Israeli settlement campaign," French News Agency AFP reported.
U.S.-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked since September when an 11-month moratorium on settlement constriction came to an end.
Israel's UN envoy Meron Reuven criticized the "destructive rhetoric," adding that "it takes two to tango, Israel cannot reach this peace on its own," AFP reported.
"We can only achieve peace with the Palestinians through compromise and direct and bilateral negotiations," he said. "We can only move forward through bilateral negotiations that address the concerns of both sides."
The United States has offered Israel a major package of incentives to start a new suspension. Israel has not yet given a formal response.
The UN General Assembly is expected to vote on Tuesday on the Middle East resolutions.
Palestinians have conducted talks this month over their possible contingency program in the case that the mediated talks with Israel fail, which could involve bypassing the U.S.-sponsored peace process to seek statehood through the UN, a PA official said.
Israel has so far balked at the Palestinian and U.S. line that a new freeze, unlike the last one, must include East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1980 but Palestinians claim as their future capital.
Abbas has vowed not to return to the table unless settlement building is halted on all territory beyond the Green Line – Israel's pre-1967 border and the likely basis for a Palestinian appeal to the UN.
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