Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem on Saturday called for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible and without preconditions.
Addressing a news conference Secretary Clinton said the settlement issue should be considered part of peace negotiations.
“There has never been a precondition. It’s always been an issue within the negotiations,” Clinton said, adding that Israel had made “unprecedented” concessions on settlement building.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who addressed the conference alongside Clinton, said Palestinian demands for a full Israeli settlement freeze were being used to prevent the renewal of peace talks.
“It is actually being used as a pretext … as an obstacle that prevents the re-establishment of negotiations,” he said.
The US had previously demanded that Israel halt settlement expansions.
The Palestinians are unlikely to accept the new move.