Kerry: Israeli settlements no 'speed bump'

Aug. 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM
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BOGOTA, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Israeli plans for settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem do not constitute a "speed bump" in the peace effort, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

The British government said it was concerned by Israeli authorities' decision to advance plans for more than 1,000 settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A statement from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said "such steps do not help efforts towards a negotiated two-state solution."

Kerry has put his political capital in the region behind a renewed effort to find a way to settle a crisis befuddling policymakers at least since the 1960s. Kerry's counterparts in the European Union said they believed peace in the Middle East was within reach.

Kerry said during a Monday news conference with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin the announcement on the settlements was anticipated.

"I do not believe it will become what you call a speed bump in that sense," he said.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington relayed the importance of a creating a positive atmosphere for peace negotiations. She acknowledged the settlement announcement came at a particularly sensitive time.

Kerry said the U.S. government views settlement activity as illegal.

"I think what this underscores, actually, is the importance of getting to the table, getting to the quickly, and resolving the questions with respect to settlements, which are best resolved by solving the problem of security and borders," he said.

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