Abbas refuses to resume peace talks

Palestinian president insists on Israeli settlement freeze at meeting with Clinton.

    Israel has refused to halt construction of some 3,000 houses currently being built in the West Bank [AFP]

    He said the offer Clinton presented to Abbas at the meeting fell far short of Palestinian demands.

    Erakat said Israel had refused to halt construction of some 3,000 houses currently being built in the West Bank or any construction in annexed east Jerusalem.

    Clinton visit

    Clinton arrived in Israel later on Saturday for meetings with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, in a renewed drive to resume long-stalled peace talks.

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    A senior US state department official said Clinton's meetings were intended to supply an on-the-ground picture of where the two sides stand before she meets Arab foreign ministers at a development summit in Morocco next week to try to garner
    regional support for peace moves.

    "She reported ... last week that the process is going through a difficult patch and she is using the opportunity, being in the region, to consult with the leaders, see where they are, and how we can get the process moving forward again," the official said.

    Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, had no comment when asked what gestures Israel might be willing to make to help Abbas.

    He reiterated Israel's position that it is ready to relaunch talks without preconditions.

    Netanyahu said on Friday that he hoped to use talks with Clinton "to try to relaunch the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible".

    US efforts to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks have so far met with little success.

    The negotiations broke down late last year after Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu's predecessor, resigned amid corruption allegations, sending Israel into early elections that saw Netanyahu return to power after 10 years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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