Last update - 09:31 01/11/2009
PA scoffs at Clinton for praising 'unprecedented' Israeli concessions
By Haaretz Service and Agencies
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman on Saturday scoffed at
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's statement that Israel
is making "unprecedented" concessions on West Bank settlement construction.
"There can be no excuse for the continuation of settlements, which is
really the main obstacle in the way of any credible peace process," said
Nabil Abu Rdainah.
During a press conference on Saturday night with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Clinton said: "What the Prime Minister has
offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements which
he has just described - no new starts for example, is unprecedented in
the context of prior-to negotiations."
She also said a freeze in settlement building had not been a condition
for peace talks in the past and urged both sides to resume talks now.
But Abu Rdainah said: "A settlement freeze and acknowledging the terms
of reference is the only way towards peace negotiations. Settlement is
illegitimate and it is not possible to accept any justification for the
continuation of the settlement activity or to defend it in the lands
occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem."
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Sami
Abu Zuhri, said Saturday the U.S. could not effectively engage in
peacemaking while ignoring Hamas, and said Clinton's visit was "destined
During the press conference, Netanyahu said Israel was ready to start
talks right away and that the Palestinians could bring their objections
about settlements to the negotiating table.
"What we should do on the path to peace is get on it and get with it,"
The prime minister also blasted the Palestinian demand for a settlement
"But this is a new demand, it's a change of policy - of the Palestinian
policy and it doesn't do much for peace - it doesn't work to advance
negotiations," Netanyahu said. "It actually is used as a pretext... as
an obstacle that prevents the re-establishment of negotiations."