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13:35 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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Russia concerned over Israeli housing plans for East Jerusalem

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Russia has voiced concerns about Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, fearing they may damage peace efforts ahead of the Mideast Quartet's meeting in Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Russia has voiced concerns about Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, fearing they may damage peace efforts ahead of the Mideast Quartet's meeting in Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

"We consider such measures unacceptable. They flout internationally acknowledged reconciliation proceedings," the ministry said.

"We can't allow a new chance to go ahead with the reconciliation process to be lost," it added.

The meeting of the Quartet of international mediators in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will be held in Moscow on March 19.

The Israeli government announced the new housing project on Tuesday, just as the Middle East peace talks had finally spluttered into life after a 15-month break.

The announcement drew cutting criticism from the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, who called on the Israeli authorities to "fulfill all their commitments and obligations vis-a-vis the peace process and to refrain from unilateral decisions and actions that may jeopardize the final status negotiations."

Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories are one of the main obstacles to continued peace talks with Israel.

Israel declared Jerusalem to be its territory after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. But according to rules of international law, these territories are considered occupied. Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity since 2001 in the Palestinian territories.

Israel is also set to build 112 housing units in the West Bank.

MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti)