The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday expressed its concern over Israel's decision to end a ten-month settlement freeze in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"It is bad for negotiations, for the political atmosphere in the region and for prospects of establishing fair and long-lasting peace there," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement.
The issue of Jewish settlements has been one of the major sticking points that have prevented peace in the Middle East, with Palestinians threatening to quit the recently resumed direct peace talks if the moratorium is lifted.
Shortly before the ban expired, PNA leader Mahmoud Abbas said Israel "must choose between peace and the continuation of settlements."
Abbas said he would make a decision on the fate of the Arab-Israeli direct peace talks after Saturday's consultations with the League of Arab States.
Many international bodies, including Middle East Quartet of negotiators (Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union), have repeatedly called on Israel to extend the moratorium.
Israel started construction of more than 50 housing units in the West Bank town in Ariel on Monday morning.
MOSCOW, September 28 (RIA Novosti)