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OPT: No negotiations with settlements underway: Abbas

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RAMALLAH, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he will not resume peace talks with Israel unless it stops settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"There are no negotiations with settlement underway. We won't accept the resumption of the negotiations without the full suspension of the settlement, especially in Jerusalem," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.

Abbas added he doesn't mind if the freeze on settlements building was "for a specific time," stressing that the "reference" of the negotiations and the peace process must be well-identified "so there will be no vagueness by the Israelis."

According to Abbas, "an international reference" would be the best to oversee the process of the negotiations when they are restarted.

When Israel launched a military operation in Gaza in December 2008, the negotiations stopped. Abbas refused to resume the talks, citing the settlements that eat up lands that the Palestinians want for their future statehood.

Recently, the United States stepped up its efforts to revive the Middle East peace process, with the Palestinians are frustrated since Washington could not oblige Israel to halt all settlement activities.