Sat, Dec 04, 2010 - Page 5 News List

US mum on efforts for a new Israeli settlement freeze

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US declined on Thursday to say whether or not efforts by Washington to have Israel impose a new settlement freeze on Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories had failed.

In Jerusalem, the US administration informed the Palestinian Authority “that the Israeli government did not agree to a new settlement freeze,” a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.

However, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declined to confirm the remarks.

“As we’ve said many, many times, we’re not going to give you a play-by-play,” Crowley told reporters. “We have quiet conversations with both sides on the substance of the peace process. Those conversations are ongoing, and beyond that we’re not going to get into details of what precisely was discussed.”

There was no comment from the US consulate in Israel, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks with US Consul-General Daniel Rubinstein in Ramallah earlier on Thursday.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said the meeting was inconclusive.

The US has for weeks been trying to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

A previous 10-month freeze expired on Sept. 26, shortly after the launch of new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the first direct negotiations between the two sides in nearly two years.

The talks ground to a halt after the ban expired and settlement building resumed.

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