Israel-Palestine negotiations hit a stumbling block today as Israeli PM Ehud Olmert rejected Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' call for an end to all settlement activity, Reuters reports. The impasse has been exacerbated by Israel's announcement of new plans to construct hundreds of houses near East Jerusalem, the proposed site of Palestine's future capital.
After the leaders' first meeting since last month's Annapolis talks, Olmert's spokesman said, "We won't agree with the Palestinians on every issue on day one." The dispute hinges on whether Israel will halt all settlement activities or only new construction. For the time being, Israel has adopted the latter attitude. A Hamas spokesman said Olmert's refusal highlights "the pointlessness of the negotiations."