Clinton meets Israeli, Palestinian leaders

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Israel’s chief negotiator Thursday as she tried to breathe life into the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley did not provide details of the meeting with Isaac Molho but said the overall goal was to get both sides back to peace talks by focusing on the key differences that stand in the way of a settlement.

Molho also met with special US envoy George Mitchell, who is scheduled to fly to the region next week, as well as with other State Department officials.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was scheduled to have meetings at the State Department later Thursday before sitting down with Clinton Friday.

Clinton is slated to give a major address Friday on the way to move forward with the peace process since direct negotiations stalled in late September, after an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expired.

The US tried unsuccessfully to get the Israelis to extend the moratorium, a Palestinian condition to continuing the negotiations.

Crowley confirmed earlier this week the US had abandoned a proposal that would have had Israel freeze West Bank settlements for 90 days to give time for negotiations to produce results.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet rejected the proposal that would have provided Israel with advanced US jet fighters in return. Crowley said the plan was dropped after US officials concluded its chances for success were unlikely.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday reiterated demands that Israel freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians envision as the future capital of a state.

Clinton has twice spoken with Abbas in recent days.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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