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Clinton: Netanyahu Offered to Stop All Construction

Hillary Clinton says the Netanyahu gov't has offered to end all settlement activity in Judea and Samaria. The PM's office has not yet commented.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/5/2009, 12:05 PM / Last Update: 11/5/2009, 12:11 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Netanyahu government has offered to end all settlement activity in Judea/Samaria, saying, "President Obama has gotten more before negotiations ever started out of Israel than anybody has ever gotten."

The Prime Minister's office has not yet commented.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking with a U.S. Congress-funded Arabic-language TV network in the Middle East on Wednesday, said that the Netanyahu government has offered to end all settlement activity in Judea/Samaria. “It would end permits, it would end approvals, it would end expropriation of land,” Clinton told the Al-Hurra network, adding, “It is not at all everything we would want, but for that government to do anything is unprecedented.”

Clinton repeated her call for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume talks with no pre-conditions – a call echoed by Netanyahu, but which PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected as recently as this week. Abbas met with Clinton met in Abu Dhabi a few days ago, where he told her that her proposal was unacceptable.

Abbas has said that Israel must totally stop both “colonization” and demolition of illegal Arab structures as a “key” to resuming negotiations, and has even added that, “Without Jerusalem, there will be no peace.” 

It is not clear what Netanyahu has actually offered Clinton in terms of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. His office has not commented on the most recent reports.

The Arab world has been highly critical of the Obama Administration for accepting and praising Netanyahu’s willingness to restrict, but not freeze, Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. Clinton, however, attempted to downplay the issue, telling Al-Hurra that it had never been a demand in previous Israeli-Arab negotiations. “There have been numerous peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I know very well what happened in the 1990s with my husband and Yasser Arafat, how close everyone got,” Clinton said, referring to the Camp David talks that failed when Arafat refused then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of 98 percent of Judea/Samaria. “And there was no demand or expectation that settlements would be dealt with before the entire negotiation.”

"Obama Has Gotten More Out of Israel Than Anyone Ever Did"
The same occurred in later talks between the Sharon and Olmert governments and Abbas, she said: “There was no demand about settlements… So President Obama has gotten more before negotiations ever started out of Israel than anybody has ever gotten, more than was ever asked for before. So I think everyone should take a deep breath and say, look, what is our goal here? Is our goal to end a few hundred settlements or a few thousand more units? Or is our goal a Palestinian state? And I think if we keep that in mind, we’ve actually made some progress along that way, even though not everybody is satisfied with it.”

Alhurra (Arabic for “The Free One”) is a commercial-free, Arabic-language satellite television network for the Middle East devoted primarily to news and information. It is operated by The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc., which is financed by the American people via the U.S Congress.