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Settlement issue stalls Middle East peace talks

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Settlement issue stalls Middle East peace talks


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Morocco with little prospect of fresh peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

On Saturday, she praised Israel’s “unprecedented concessions” on West Bank settlement construction. At a Israeli cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the stalled peace talks. “We hope the Palestinians return to their senses and will enter into the negotiation process,” he said. “The peace process is in both parties’ interest. It is an important thing. We are committed to it and want it to begin straight away.” Yesterday, Clinton spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Abu Dhabi, where he refused to return to the table unless Israel stopped all settlement building. Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian government official, explained why. “Our experience tells us that resuming the peace talks alongside and in parallel to the continuation of Israeli settlement construction would doom the talks to failure,” he said. The US believes the settlement issue is not a precondition, but should be a part of the negotiations.

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