PA official: U.S. push for Mideast peace may fail
Abbas aide says Netanyahu meeting with Obama must yield Israeli and American guarantees for settlement freeze.
A senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday U.S. efforts to bring about indirect peace talks with Israel may fail unless Washington can guarantee a complete halt to Israeli settlement building.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu in Washington later on Tuesday must yield an "Israeli commitment and American guarantees to freeze settlement".
"Otherwise the American efforts remain at risk," he told Reuters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reaffirmed Israel's commitment to building in East Jerusalem and in neighboring areas of the occupied West Bank annexed by the Jewish state to its expanded Jerusalem municipality - a move that has not won international recognition.
"Jerusalem is not a settlement. It's our capital," he said, speaking in Washington.The United States has said settlement building, a policy of successive Israeli governments, is endangering its efforts to advance Middle East peace.
Abu Rdainah said Netanyahu's latest remarks would not help the U.S. efforts. Under pressure from the United States and its Arab allies, the Palestinians had agreed to indirect talks with Israel. There have been no negotiations since the end of 2008.
However Israel's announcement of plans for new settlement homes in East Jerusalem, captured along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, has infuriated the Palestinians, who now want guarantees of a full freeze in settlement building.
"What Netanyahu said does not help the American efforts and will not serve the efforts of the American administration to bring the sides to indirect negotiations," Abu Rdainah said.
"East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine and this is the only way to the signing of any peace agreement in any period. Netanyahu's statements are clear evidence that he does not want to return to any serious negotiations."
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