Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:40 am (KSA) 08:40 am (GMT)

Clinton urges Mideast peace talks resumed

Clinton and Jordanian FM Judeh both alluded to a two-year timeline for negotiations
Clinton and Jordanian FM Judeh both alluded to a two-year timeline for negotiations

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday urged Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace talks "without preconditions," backing Palestinian aims for a state along the 1967 boundaries.

However, trying to revive Obama administration diplomacy that fell flat last year, Clinton said the lines would be modified through mutually agreed land swaps, presumably to account for some Israeli settlements that would remain.

Flanked by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Clinton urged the Palestinians to try to stop settlement building through negotiations on core issues rather than conditioning the resumption of talks on a total freeze.

 Resolving borders resolves settlements. Resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"Resolving borders resolves settlements. Resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements," The chief U.S diplomat told reporters at a joint news conference.

"We are working with the Israelis, the (Palestinian Authority), and the Arab states to take the steps needed to relaunch the negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions," she said.

The parties can reach a solution that "reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders," she added.

Clinton was referring to the boundaries existing before the Arab-Israeli war in 1967, moving in the direction of Palestinian demands for a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The United States says the status of Jerusalem, all of which Israel claims as its capital, and the exact boundaries of a future state must be determined through negotiations.

In her opening remarks, Clinton also said both Washington and Amman were "concerned about recent activities in Jerusalem," echoing their opposition to new Jewish settlement building in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

In November, Israel said it would limit settlement building for 10 months to try to revive peace talks but excluded areas of the West Bank it annexed to its Jerusalem municipality after the 1967 war and building projects already under way -- falling short of the full freeze demanded by the Palestinians.

Two-year timeline

 This is a year of renewed commitment and increased effort toward what we see as an imperative goal for the region of the world 
Hillary Clinton

Clinton and Judeh both alluded to a two-year timeline for negotiations mentioned in a television interview Wednesday by U.S. envoy George Mitchell, whom the Jordanian met here Friday, though Judeh was more explicit.

"We agreed on the need to relaunch serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, negotiations that are bound by a timeline and a clear plan," Judeh said.

Clinton and Mitchell also met with both Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, who spoke of trying to "regenerate energy" for peace, and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Egypt and Jordan are the key Arab mediators as the only Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.

The U.S. initiative will continue when Mitchell leaves Sunday for Paris and Brussels for consultations with allies and more members of the quartet made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Days after entering the White House in January last year, President Barack Obama signaled that Arab-Israeli peace was a top priority.

But the effort stalled as Arab nations accused the administration of reneging on its demand that hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government completely freeze Jewish settlement construction.

"This is a year of renewed commitment and increased effort toward what we see as an imperative goal for the region of the world," Clinton said.

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