A Palestinian woman scuffles with Israeli border police at the Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Arabs will not continue to support indirect talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis unless Tel Aviv drops plans to build more colonies in occupied East Jerusalem, a senior UAE official said yesterday.

"The UAE has conveyed a very clear message to the United States [which brokers the indirect talks] and to the Palestinians, that the UAE and other Arab countries will not continue to support these talks unless Israel cancels plans to build 1,600 colony units in occupied East Jerusalem," Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan told a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart, Markos Kyprionou.

The Cypriot minister joined the UAE in condemning the expansion of Jewish colonies.

Diplomatic rift

The dispute opened up a rare diplomatic rift between the US and Israel, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday rebuking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with "strong objections" to the plans.

In comments to the Qatar-based television news channel Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Clinton said: "We want to see a stop to settlement [colony] construction, additions, natural growth — any kind of settlement [colony building] activity."