US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on the Israelis and Palestinians to restart peace talks immediately.
The plea came at a joint media conference with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said: ‘‘The simple fact is this: We are willing to engage in peace talks immediately without preconditions. The other fact is that, unfortunately, the other side is not.’‘ Earlier, Clinton also held a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In Abu Dhabi, Abbas made it clear peace talks would not resume until Israel stopped building settlements. ‘‘The establishment of peace requires the fulfilment of certain conditions: the total cessation of settlement building and a return to the basics of the peace process.’‘ Peace in the Middle East remains a key foreign policy priority for the White House. So far, however, Israel’s government has refused to put a total freeze on settlement construction.