Netanyahu To Mitchell: “No Settlement Freeze”
Friday April 23, 2010 05:49 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
On Thursday evening, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told the visiting U.S. Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell, that Israel will not freeze its settlement activities in the occupied territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
The meeting between the two officials came shortly after Mitchell and his team arrived in the country to conduct the first visit in six weeks.
Netanyahu told the Israeli TV that “settlements are considered a red line”, he also underestimated the differences in stances between Israel and the United States, and described the relations between the two countries as open and sincere.
The Israeli Prime Minister accused the Palestinians of placing obstacles and preconditions in front of the efforts to resume the peace process.
As for the Iranian file, Netanyahu stated that the United States must increase the sanctions on Tehran and added that “Israel reserves its right to defend itself”.
He also stated that Israel is not interested in any war but accused Iran of smuggling weapons to Hezbollah party in Lebanon through the Syrian border.
The United States said that the current situation in the Middle East cannot remain
as it is.
Philip Crowley, U.S. State Department Spokesperson, stated that the “United States understands the Israeli position, but the current situation cannot continue”.
Crowley added that Israel and the Palestinians have responsibilities and should implement their parts of any deal in order to create the atmosphere that would enable the stalled peace process to advance.
It is worth mentioning that Mitchell will be holding a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Friday.
Also on Thursday, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, received a phone call from Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who told him that President Barack Obama is committed to resolving all final-status issues, and is committed to the two-state