JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Palestinians remained pessimistic about the likelihood of relaunching peace talks with Israel despite US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempt to clarify earlier remarks about settlements.
During a visit to Morocco, Clinton told Arab leaders that Washington remained opposed to all Israeli settlement activity after she had praised an Israeli offer to ease construction as “unprecedented” during a visit to Jerusalem.
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Monday he was “satisfied” with Clinton’s clarifications, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) insisted on Tuesday it would not relaunch talks without a complete settlement freeze.
“Clinton’s backtracking on her remarks, especially with regard to the partial freeze of settlements, is not sufficient to restart negotiations with Israel,” PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.
“The administration must compel Israel to halt all settlements in the Palestinian territories, including natural growth and settlement activity in east Jerusalem.”
The Palestinian press remained intensely pessimistic that US President Barack Obama would follow through on his demand that Israel halt settlement activity, seen as the main obstacle to relaunching the peace process.
“It’s clear that the Obama administration is too weak to deliver on its promises, and that it has shifted from putting necessary pressure on Israel to pressuring the Palestinians,” an editorial in the Al-Ayyam daily said.
“The peace process died a long time ago… But it is in the interest of different local, Arab and international parties not to mourn it and bury it because the process, with or without peace, has become a demand unto itself.”
Another editorial, in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, accused Israel of derailing another attempt at resolving the decades-old conflict.
“Israel is now burying the vision and the initiative of Obama in its cradle, with the clear and explicit agreement of the Americans,” it said.
“It’s clear that that negotiations as a choice and a programme and a culture have fallen past the point of no return.”