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Clinton expresses sympathy for Israeli negotiating concerns

New building permits in eastern Jerusalem

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Clinton expresses sympathy for Israeli negotiating concerns

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an interview with ABC News on Thursday in which she said of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations “If this were easy, it would have been solved a long time ago. It’s an incredibly complex and emotionally charged situation,” adding that she understood Israel’s reluctance to evacuate the West Bank after the “experience of having left Lebanon and now having Hizbullah and rockets on their border, having left Gaza and now having Hamas and rockets on their border."

“Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu have to believe that any peace deal will lead to greater, not lesser security. The Palestinians, who have long sought the right to have their own state, deserve to have those aspirations satisfied,” she said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle during a visit to Germany on Thursday that Israel has more than done its part to move the negotiations forward and now it is time for the Palestinians to show some “goodwill.”

The “goodwill” Lieberman was referring to might include accepting the offer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend Israel’s building freeze in the West Bank in exchange for the PA recognizing Israel as a Jewish State.

Netanyahu said there was “no doubt that such a move by the Palestinian Authority would serve as a trust-building step, one that would open up a new horizon of hope and trust among broad sections of the Israeli public who, in light of the events of the past decade, have lost their confidence in the Palestinians’ desire to end the conflict.”

But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his position that he has no plans to accept the offer during a press conference in Ramallah on Thursday.

“If the Israelis want to call themselves any name, they should address the international community and the United Nations, because this is none of our business,” Abbas said. “Our position is that we recognize Israel. We fully believe in the two state solution – a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and the State of Israel, living next to each other in peace and security.”

Abbas added that he was ready to return to negotiations as soon as Israel re-instates the building freeze, but that appeared unlikely Friday morning as the Housing Ministry and Israel Lands Authority announced that some 4,000 plots for building housing units have been issued, including 240 in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev located east the Green Line.

The announcement came a few hours before Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced that the Arab League was preparing to “study some other option aside from the peace process such as going to the United Nations and ask for the recognition of the Palestinian state" if building in settlements is not discontinued.


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