Clinton Calls for Direct Negotiations between Israel and PA
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take advantage of a new political opening and goodwill gestures to resume peace negotiations.
AFP reported that Clinton’s comments were made during a visit to Copenhagen, as Israel released the bodies of 91 terrorists to the Palestinian Authority.
The release of the bodies is another in an ongoing series of “gestures” by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the PA, in an effort to encourage PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to agree to return to negotiations with Israel. So far, the PA has refused, although Abbas has accepted Israel's “gestures.”
“We believe that there is opportunity for direct negotiations. And we hope it was enhanced by the release of bodies today by the Israelis of Palestinians ... as a sign of confidence building,” said Clinton, adding, “But they have to get to the negotiating table and deal with very hard issues.”
Clinton added that the recently formed unity government in Israel has created “the best opportunity for several years to reach such a negotiated agreement.”
“So we very much want to encourage the Israelis and Palestinians to do that,” Clinton said, according to AFP.
She added that she had urged both Netanyahu and Abbas “to take this opportunity” to resume direct peace talks, which have been on hold since September 2010.
The PA is demanding that Israel recognize a Palestinian state along the indefensible pre-1967 borders with equal territorial swaps and cessation of construction of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, before negotiations even begin.
In January, Jordan hosted PA and Israeli representatives for a series of “exploratory” talks, but those too ended after the PA refused to continue them.