Palestinians: Settlement freeze requirement for any negotiations
Palestinian officials Tuesday told Washington's Middle East envoy that a settlement construction freeze remained their precondition for "any" negotiations with Israel, DPA reported.
"Any negotiations or talks require an end to settlement activities," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, after envoy George Mitchell met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, following talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the previous evening.
Mitchell said that, despite its failure to extract a 90-day extension of a partial settlement freeze from Netanyahu, the US remained "determined to persevere" in its efforts to see an independent and viable Palestinian state living alongside a secure Israel.
Washington had earlier announced it would no longer pursue a settlement moratorium extension, in a sudden "change of tactics."
An earlier, partial freeze of 10 months on Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank expired on September 26.
The failure to negotiate an extension prompted nascent direct negotiations to collapse just three weeks after they were launched.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday that Washington would now try to narrow the gaps over the core issues of the conflict by holding indirect negotiations, until enough common ground was found to renew direct talks and reach a framework agreement.