Clinton says Israel Should Reciprocate Palestinian Moves
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Palestinian authorities have made positive steps to improve security and those moves should be reciprocated by Israel, VOA reported. Clinton had angered Palestinian leaders with earlier comments praising an Israeli offer to limit the expansion of Jewish settlements.
Clinton says Palestinian President Mahumd Abass has shown "leadership and determination" to improve security and that Israel "should reciprocate."
Clinton spoke in Morocco where she is attending a meeting of G-8 and Middle East foreign ministers.
Reading from a prepared statement during talks with the Moroccan foreign minister, Clinton says she told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that positive steps by the Palestinian Authority should be met by positive steps from Israel regarding the free movement of Palestinians and Israeli security arrangements in the West Bank.
During talks Saturday in Jerusalem, Clinton said Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to restrict the growth of Jewish settlements on disputed land is "unprecedented."
That drew sharp condemnation from Palestinian and Arab leaders who feel the Obama administration is allowing Israel to sidestep a 2003 accord that calls for the halt of all settlement activity, not the limits Prime Minister Netanyahu is offering.
The Jordanian and Egyptian governments issued statements critical of the apparent shift in U.S. policy. Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan al-Khatib says he believes Washington now condones continued settlement expansion which he says entrenches the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa says he is "deeply disappointed" by the U.S. position, telling reporters in Morocco that "failure is in the atmosphere" regarding Obama administration efforts to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Clinton sought to address that criticism by saying successive U.S. administrations from both political parties have opposed Israeli settlement activity, and the Obama administration's position has not changed. She says the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
Palestinian President Abbas says he will not return to talks on a two-state solution unless Israel agrees to a complete halt to those settlements. Arab League Chief Amr Moussa says resuming talks without a freeze on settlement expansion would be futile.