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Russia calls Israel settlement plan 'counterproductive'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russia on Monday criticised a "counterproductive" decision by Israel to invite bids to build nearly 1,200 homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem on the eve of planned peace talks.

The Russian foreign ministry said Moscow was "seriously concerned" by the move.

"The announcement of such plans on the eve of a new round of negotiations due to be held in Jerusalem on August 14 ... is a counterproductive step that complicates the atmosphere of the talks," the Russian ministry statement said.

In a decision that infuriated the Palestinians, Israel's housing ministry said on Sunday it would be publishing tenders for 793 units in east Jerusalem and 394 elsewhere in the West Bank.

The US State Department said last week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would resume talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday on ending their decades-old conflict.

The sides returned to negotiations in Washington last month, ending a three-year hiatus after painstaking US mediation. The last talks in 2010 broke down over the issue of settlement building.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130812/russia-calls-israel-settlement-plan-counterproductive