Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Israel politely tells Mitchell to "Take A Hike"

Israel tells Mitchell it won't halt natural growth in settlements

from The Jerusalem Post
By Herb Keinon
June 10, 2009

While outwardly US envoy George Mitchell tried to downplay tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, the settlement construction issue continued to be a central source of contention when Mitchell met with Israel's leaders on Tuesday.

Mitchell, during a day of meetings that included four hours with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was told that Israel would not bring all settlement construction to a complete halt, even though this continues to be the US's stated position.

One senior official said that there appeared to be some "convergence" between the sides, and they were moving toward a definition of the issues.

Following the evening meeting with Mitchell, which included a two-hour one-on-one conversation, Netanyahu's office issued a statement that the meeting was "friendly and positive and encompassed the whole range of issues on the agenda."

Netanyahu, according to the statement, said that "Israel is working to promote peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors and the wider Arab world."

In front of the cameras, Mitchell took pains to stress the importance of the US-Israeli relationship, and Washington's commitment to Israel's security.

Mitchell, after a meeting earlier in the day with President Shimon Peres, said he wanted to state again "clearly and emphatically, beyond any doubt, that the United States' commitment to the security of Israel remains unshakeable."

He stressed that the current disagreements "are not disagreements among adversaries. The United States and Israel are and will remain close allies and friends. My meetings today with the president and other Israeli officials are discussions among friends who share a common set of objectives: Peace, security and prosperity to all the people of this region."

Mitchell said the objective of the Obama administration was a "comprehensive peace in the Middle East," including "a Palestinian state side by side in peace and security with the Jewish State of Israel. The president and the secretary of state have made our policy clear. Israelis and Palestinians have a responsibility to meet their obligations under the road map. It's not just their responsibility. We believe it's in their security interest as well."

Giving voice to the Obama administration's focus on the regional element of the diplomatic process, Mitchell said the US was engaged in "serious discussions" with Israel, the Palestinians and regional partners in the hopes of creating the conditions "for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations."

Click to read the rest of the article and the comments

No comments:

Post a Comment