pj crowley 311.
(photo credit: AP)
The Council of Jewish
Communities in Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, calling on him to have Defense
Ehud Barak immediately sign on September 26 orders allowing for the
West Bank projects that have already passed through all the relevant
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The letter called on Netanyahu to
make his intentions known
to approve the construction even before he goes to Washington, and that
refuses to sign, for the prime minister to do so himself.
authorizing the tenders already on September 26 is like continuing the
with all that implies diplomatically, publicly and politically,” the
read. “That is judgment day.”
Also speaking ahead of the imminent onset of long-sought direct talks between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority, a senior American
official said on Tuesday that the US administration expects that neither side will take
any measure to poison the atmosphere or derail the talks.
The official, in a briefing in Jerusalem with
Israeli journalists, was asked repeatedly, and in various variations, how the
administration would react to an end to the settlement housing-start moratorium
on September 26. The official would not answer directly, but only repeated the
mantra about Washington expecting that both sides not do anything to harm the
atmosphere or derail the talks.
The official then went to Ramallah for a
similar briefing with Palestinian reporters.
On Monday, State Department
spokesman P.J. Crowley said the moratorium issue would be a topic of discussion
when Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas meet with
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to launch the direct talks next Thursday
“We are very mindful of the Palestinian position and once
we’re now into direct negotiations, we expect that both parties will do
everything within their power to create an environment for those negotiations to
continue constructively,” Crowley said when asked about the Palestinian threat
to quit the talks if the moratorium was not renewed.
has signaled that after working for months to get the direct talks started,
something Israel has said it wanted, it would be difficult to understand why
Jerusalem would take steps at the very outset of those talks that would lead
Abbas to walk away from the negotiating table. Abbas has repeatedly threatened
to quit the negotiations if settlement construction was resumed.
administration official briefing reporters in Jerusalem said that the US’s
position on the settlements had not changed, and that Washington “doesn’t accept
the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
The official said there
were no “clandestine” understandings with either side that enabled the launching
of direct talks after so long, and that there were no preconditions to the
All the issues would be on the table, and it would be up to
the sides to determine the order of the discussions, the official said. While
the Palestinians have indicated that they want to discuss the settlements first,
Israel has said it was interested in starting with a discussion of security
Regarding the American role, the official would not say whether
US envoy George Mitchell would be sitting in on the negotiations, and that the
logistics of how the negotiations would be conducted still had to be worked out
and agreed upon.
“The process is not important,” the official said. “What
are important are the results.”
However, if there were impasses in the
talks, the US might play an active role and offer ideas to bridge gaps, he
The goal was to reach a comprehensive agreement, not a temporary
In addition to Egypt and Jordan, other countries in the region –
such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman – have been
creating a regional atmosphere conducive to talks, the US official
The Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday night that the Saudi
cabinet welcomed the resumption of direct talks. The statement came a
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who has
actively backing direct talks.