Clinton: Decision to escalate row with Israel 'is paying off'
U.S. Secretary of State says pressure over East Jerusalem construction could restart negotiations.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the Obama administration's decision to ramp up pressure on Israel over construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem was bringing results.
In an interview with BBC television, Clinton was asked whether escalating the tone with Israel had paid off.
She said: "I think we're going to see the resumption of the negotiation track and that means that it is paying off because that's our goal."
Over the past two weeks Israel has sought to cool American ire over plans for 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood that lies beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem.
Clinton had described the announcement, which coincided with a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pull out of scheduled U.S.-mediated peace talks, as an "insult".
It was now the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's duty to overcome opposition within his coalition government and ensure that the stalled negotiations moved forward, Clinton told the BBC.
"I think what the prime minister has said repeatedly is that his government and he personally are committed to pursuing these negotiations and he just has to make sure that he brings in everyone else," she said.
"That's his responsibility and it's not something that the United States can or is interested in doing."
Over the past few days the U.S has signaled its desire to move beyond the row over Ramat Shlomo and focus on restarting so-called the 'proximity talks' between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian officials told The Associated Press on Friday that it appeared unlikely Abbas would defy mounting international pressure for a return negotiations.
Israel also seems willing to return to the negotiating table.
At a news conference later Friday following a meeting of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators in Moscow, Clinton indicated that Netanyahu is ready to address U.S. concerns.
"What I heard from the prime minister in response to the requests we made was useful and productive," she said.
In a telephone call to Netanyahu last week, Clinton laid out U.S. expectations from Israel including a rollback to the housing plan, a gesture of good faith to the Palestinians and an express statement that all issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians, including the fate of divided Jerusalem, remain part of the negotiations.
Clinton said she expects to see Netanyahu in Washington next week, where both are to address the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
President Obama had planned to be out of town during Netanyahu's visit but canceled his trip to remain in Washington for a vote on his health care overhaul.
According to reports on Friday, the president has scheduled a last-minute meeting with Netanyahu.