Rice urged to pressure Israel to halt settlement activityMarch 31st, 2008 - 4:10 am ICT by admin
Amman, March 31 (DPA) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conferred Sunday with two Arab leaders, who urged Washington to lean on Israel to stop settlement activity in East Jerusalem as a prerequisite for successful talks with the Palestinians. Rice held separate talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who earlier took part in the Arab summit in Damascus, and with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
“The monarch considered Israel’s unilateral policies, particularly the expansion of settlements in Jerusalem, key obstacles in the path of international and regional peace efforts,” a royal court statement said.
Abdullah warned that “the failure of current efforts aimed at advancing the peace process will have repercussions on security and stability of the region and will deepen desperation and the cycle of violence in the region,” the statement said.
“From her part, Rice expressed the commitment on the part of the US administration to achieve peace in the Middle East and to work with both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to achieve this end,” the Jordanian statement said.
During his meeting with Rice at the residence of the Palestinian ambassador, Abbas made it clear that the continuation of both Israeli settlement activity in Jerusalem and Israeli attacks on Palestinians would “derail” the ongoing peace talks between the two sides, Palestinian sources said.
The Israeli government reportedly approved the building of thousands of housing units at settlements in East Jerusalem over the last few weeks.
Rice reported to the Palestinian leader the readiness of the Israeli side to remove at least 50 roadblocks in the West Bank to improve movement of Palestinians and improve their day-to-day lives, the sources said.
She met earlier in the day in Jerusalem with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
“What we have to do is to have meaningful progress towards a better life for the Palestinian people, towards economic viability for Palestinians even as we move towards the establishment of a state,” Rice told a press conference in Jerusalem.
Rice was due to hold a second meeting Monday morning with Abbas, who returned from the Arab summit with a threat to reconsider the Arab peace plan if Israel continued to ignore it.