US announces failure over Israel settlement freeze

The United States suspended its demand for Israel to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

US announces failure over Israel settlement freeze

The United States suspended its demand for Israel to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building in the occupied West Bank, throwing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks into deeper disarray.

U.S. President Barack Obama brokered the direct talks that were relaunched in September but broke down over the issue of illegal settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

The White House and the State Department disclosed Tuesday that weeks of efforts to broker a new settlement freeze failed.

"We have been pursuing a moratorium as a means to create conditions for a return to meaningful and sustained negotiations," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in a televised press briefing in New York City.

"After a considerable effort, we have concluded that this does not create a firm basis to work towards our shared goal of a framework agreement," Crowley said.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was studying the U.S. decision..

"The president received a letter from the American administration. The president will respond to the letter after he consults with the Palestinian leadership and the Arab leaders," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said.

Despite the impasse, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will head to Washington next week to consult on how to move ahead.

Crowley's remarks suggest Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have returned to the point where they were in May when US envoy George Mitchell began shuttling between the two sides in so-called "proximity," or indirect negotiations.

In an attempt to revive direct talks, the United States had offered Israel a package of incentives including 20 F-35 fighter planes, worth three billion dollars (2.3 billion euros), in exchange for a new three-month ban.

Washington also committed not to seek an additional freeze and pledged to provide Israel with diplomatic support, including vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

The package would also have allowed Israel to continue building in east Jerusalem, over the objections of the Palestinians.

Abbas suggested in a television interview on Friday he may seek to dissolve the Palestinian government, a limited form of self-rule agreed in an interim deal in 1993, if a deal for statehood could not be achieved.

Palestinian officials have said they may seek to declare statehood in the occupied West Bank if negotiations with Israel foundered.

Three Latin American nations -- Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay -- declared recognition of a Palestinian state at the weekend in a move Israel said "halted peace efforts."


Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Aralık 2010, 11:58
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