Story Highlights

  • Netanyahu questions Palestinian commitment to peace
  • Palestinians see settlements as major obstacle
  • U.S.-brokered peace process at an impasse

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he would meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a U.S. visit next week in addition to previously announced talks with Vice President Joe Biden.

In a speech to parliament, Netanyahu again voiced strong criticism of the Palestinian Authority, which has suspended peace talks over his refusal to resume a partial freeze of construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"The truth is, there is great readiness in Israel for a real peace process," he said. "The truth is, we have not found a corresponding readiness within the Palestinian Authority."

Netanyahu has resisted U.S., Palestinian and international calls to impose a new building moratorium in settlements after a 10-month freeze expired in late September, some three weeks after the U.S.-brokered negotiations began.

Palestinian officials have accused Netanyahu of destroying prospects for peace by allowing settlement building to continue on land that Palestinians want for a future state.

Netanyahu arrives in New Orleans on Sunday to speak at a conference of U.S. Jewish leaders that Biden also will address. President Barack Obama will be visiting Asia during Netanyahu's U.S. trip, which also includes a four-day stay in New York.

"I will, of course, meet with the senior leaders of the United States, with Vice President Biden and subsequently with Hillary Clinton," Netanyahu told parliament.

He gave no date or venue for the meeting with Clinton, but Israeli officials said it was likely to take place in New York.

"I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Obama administration -- the president and his people -- to find a way to advance the peace process," Netanyahu said in his speech,
giving no sign of bending in the settlement impasse.