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Arab League, Hamas slam Israel

EGYPT: The Arab League and Islamist movement Hamas said on Sunday Arabs should not normalise ties with Israel as long as the Jewish state sticks to plans to build more settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

“It is impossible to speak of normalisation when Israel rejects any significant measure,” Arab League chief Amr Mussa said at a joint news conference in Cairo with Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal.

“Israel persists in its intransigent position and rejects every significant measure” concerning a freeze in settlement constructions, he said.

His remarks came after Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said on Sunday that the Jewish state would not give up plans to boost settlement construction despite widespread criticism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will announce in the coming days the construction of several hundred additional homes” in the occupied West Bank, Katz, a close ally of the premier, told Israeli public radio.

The number of new housing units to be approved could range between 400 and 700, Israeli media reported.

“I don’t believe that any Arab government can offer Israel the gift (of normalisation) on a silver platter. This issue (normalisation) must be closed,” Mussa said.

“I believe that there will be a very violent reaction across the Arab world should we learn that someone normalised (ties with Israel),” he added.

Meshaal agreed with Mussa and warned Arab countries “against giving the Israelis the reward of normalisation.”

He also warned against US policy in the Middle East which he said “aims bringing into alignment Arab countries against Iran, rather than against Israel.”

Nevertheless the Damascus-based Meshaal said that Hamas “will monitor closely what (US President Barack) Obama will propose on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly” later this month concerning the peace process.

The United States is hoping that Israel and the Palestinians can make progress on reviving Middle East peace efforts at the General Assembly in late September.

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