Clinton refuses comment on written guarantees request

Israeli officials: E. J'lem hasn’t delayed freeze document; Erekat refutes claims that PA holding up talks.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS,
November 17, 2010 21:19
2 minute read.
Constructing in Jerusalem

building311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday declined to comment on Israel's request for written guarantees from Washington regarding the agreement for a renewed settlement construction freeze.

She said she could not go into details, but that the US is working closely with the two sides towards creating conditions that would enable renewed talks.

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Earlier on Wednesday Israeli officials tried to defuse speculation that a disagreement between Israel and the US over east Jerusalem construction had delayed the anticipated American document detailing the terms of an incentives package in exchange for a 90-day settlement freeze.

All details of that incentives deal, which have been leaked to the media, have stated clearly that such a moratorium would not involve east Jerusalem construction.

Israeli officials said that during last Thursday's meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netnayhu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where they discussed the 90-day freeze deal, it was understood that east Jerusalem would not be mentioned in the document.



The Shas party's expected abstention from the Security Cabinet vote on the deal — a stance which is critical to its passage — is linked to its understanding that the document would clarify that east Jerusalem construction is not included in the settlement freeze.

Israel has continuously explained to the US that east Jerusalem is part of Israel's united capital and that it does not intend to halt construction there, Israeli officials said.

The Palestinians in contrast, have insisted that all Jewish construction must be halted both in West Bank settlements and in east Jerusalem, before they would agree to return to the negotiating table.

Earlier Wednesday, Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Army Radio that the PA will only learn the details regarding the new US freeze proposal during a meeting between the assistant of US Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"All Israeli claims that Palestinians are torpedoing the [new] understanding between Washington and Jerusalem are just part of the regular Israeli machinations in the blame game," Erekat told Army Radio.

Erekat also said during the interview that the key to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is in the hands of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"The Israelis know our position...we will negotiate beginning with borders and security...all other core issues...will be dealt with after 90 days," he stated.

The Palestinian official also called for a two-state solution along 1967 borders.

"I am under your [the Israeli] occupation...we want to reach a two-state solution with 1967 borders...we have recognized your existence," Erekat said.


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