Clinton: Settlement halt not precondition
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stance on settlement constructions in the occupied West Bank as "unprecedented". This statement comes after Washington had previously demanded Israel to halt all settlement activities before negotiations could resume.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Jerusalem with the Israeli leader, Clinton said that there has never been such a precondition. "It has always been an issue with negotiations," she said, adding, "What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements which he has just described, no new starts for example, is unprecedented in the context of prior to negotiations."
"It's also the fact that for forty years, Presidents of both parties have questioned the legitimacy of settlements, but I think that where we are right now is to try to get into the negotiations.”
"The Prime Minister will be able to present his government's proposal about what they are doing regarding settlements which I think when fully explained will be seen as being not only unprecedented in response to many of the concerns that have been expressed," the top US diplomat said.
Hillary also asked both Israel and the Palestinians to immediately renew peace talks. "I want to see both sides as soon as possible begin in negotiations. Both (US) President (Barrack) Obama and I are committed to a comprehensive peace agreement," Clinton said.