Clinton Urges Palestinians to Resume Peace Talks

The Palestinians have blamed the US for destroying any chance of peace negotiations after backing Israel over the building of illegal settlements on occupied land.

It comes after the US called for talks to start as soon as possible and without preconditions, a climbdown on earlier demands for Israel to stop settlement building.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said: "The negotiations are in a state of paralysis, and the result of Israel's intransigence and America's back-pedaling is that there is no hope of negotiations on the horizon."

Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, said that pressuring the Palestinian leadership to make further concessions to accommodate Israel was not the solution, reports.

It was also reported, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prepared Monday to consult with Arab foreign ministers on Obama administration efforts to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, two days after she raised Arab ire by praising Israel's offer to limit — but not stop — Jewish settlement construction.

Clinton was to meet first with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri before flying to the southern-central city of Quarzazate for an audience with King Mohammed VI. Later she was returning to Marrakech for talks with foreign ministers of several Persian Gulf nations.

But after making little headway with the Israelis in recent months, Clinton urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in a face-to-face meeting in Abu Dhabi on Saturday to renew talks, which broke down late last year, without conditions. Abbas said no, insisting that Israel first halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — lands the Palestinians claim for a future state, The Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, foreign governments have questioned what role Mrs. Clinton was playing in formulating strategy on pressing international issues like Iran, Afghanistan and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The White House has often dominated the State Department in the internal-policy debate, according to officials taking part in the process.

Over the past week, however, the secretary of state's visits to Pakistan, the Persian Gulf and Israel inserted her on the front lines of a seemingly worsening security environment in the regions.

On issues such as global terrorism and Iran's nuclear program, the former first lady emerged as among the most hawkish members of Mr. Obama's cabinet. She took the rare step in Pakistan of publicly calling out Islamabad's military for its failure to capture al Qaeda leaders believed to be hiding in the country's tribal regions.

Now diplomats are gauging whether Mrs. Clinton's profile will continue to rise at a time when Mr. Obama's policy of using diplomatic engagement to address the world's starkest security challenges is coming under pressure, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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