Israel rejects US hint about possible sanctions
Israel was outraged Sunday after Obama administration's special envoy to the Mideast suggested the U.S. might impose sanctions on Israel to press it to make concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians. According to the AP, envoy George Mitchell was asked in a television interview last week what sort of pressure could be applied to Israel. "Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel," Mitchell told PBS interviewer Charlie Rose, noting that the previous Bush administration had done so in the past.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement in response to Mitchell's remarks, blaming the Palestinians for the failure to resume negotiations. "Everyone realizes that the Palestinian Authority refuses to renew peace talks, while Israel took significant steps to advance the process," the statement said.
The Palestinians on Saturday insisted on a full Israeli settlement freeze before renewing peace efforts. "A resumption of peace talks requires the complete halt of settlements" in the occupied West Bank, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP. He also demanded that Israel comply with its commitment under the 2003 international roadmap for peace that calls for a "halt to all settlement activity including natural growth and Jerusalem."