Netanyahu in 'intensive contacts' with US on peace



JERUSALEM- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he was pursuing "intensive contacts" with the United States that might lead to relaunching peace talks with the Palestinians.
"After my meetings in New York a week ago with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we are holding intensive contacts with the American administration," he said during a visit to a college in northern Israel.



Netanyahu in 'intensive contacts' with US on peace
"The objective is to reach an understanding under which we could relaunch the peace process, while always preserving Israel's vital interests, with security being the priority," he said.
"If I receive such a proposal from the American government, I will submit it to the cabinet, and I do not have the slightest doubt that my ministerial colleagues would equally accept it."
On Wednesday, Netanyahu said he hoped to "soon" clinch a deal with the United States over a fresh freeze on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
In Washington, Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, declined to say whether the US administration would submit a written proposal to Israel but said Clinton and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke over the telephone on Wednesday.
In last week's talks, Clinton offered incentives to get Netanyahu to accept a fresh 90-day moratorium on new settlement building in the occupied West Bank outside annexed Arab east Jerusalem in a bid to get peace talks back on track.
But Netanyahu has baulked at bringing the deal to his security cabinet until he receives the pledges in writing.
Netanyahu's office reiterated on Wednesday Israel's long-standing position that there can be no freeze on construction in east Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is not part of these discussions," the statement said. "The clear Israeli position during the whole process is that building in Jerusalem will continue."
For their part, the Palestinians are continuing to demand that any new freeze include east Jerusalem.
Washington's aim is to bring Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas back to the negotiating table so the two parties can begin discussing borders, commentators say.
Direct peace talks resumed on September 2 but collapsed three weeks later with the expiry of a 10-month Israeli ban on West Bank settlement building.
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Thursday, November 18th 2010
AFP
           


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