The international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators has urged Israel to freeze all settlement activity. Speaking for the Quartet, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel’s announcement of plans to build new homes in disputed East Jerusalem. That move was criticized as undermining efforts to restart peace talks. Speaking to the BBC, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that hardening the tone with Israel had paid off, with talks now back in prospect. Ban met Clinton and the other Quartet foreign ministers — new EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov — in Moscow. In a strongly worded statement, the Quartet condemned Israel’s announcement last week of planning permission for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967. (BBC)

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