Israeli, Palestinian leaders ‘serious about reaching a deal’

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israeli and Palestinian leaders were “serious” about reaching a peace deal, as they prepared for a new round of talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“They are getting down to business and they have begun to grapple with the core issues that can only be resolved with face-to-face negotiations,” Clinton told reporters after meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres.

“I believe they are serious about reaching an agreement … This is the time and these are the leaders, and the United States will stand by them as they make difficult decisions.”

Clinton’s vote of confidence in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came just hours ahead of a second day of talks, with the two leaders focused on resolving the core issues of the conflict.

The US secretary of state, who met with the two men on Tuesday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, said she had heard them discussing the issues “candidly and forcefully”, and was confident they could reach an agreement.

“This effort takes patience, persistence and leadership. It is always easier to defer tough decisions than to make them,” she said.

“We will be in an active and sustained partnership with them through this effort.”

She hailed Netanyahu as “a leader who understands how important it is to move forward”, and insisted that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples were “not incompatible”.

The most urgent issue facing the two leaders is the expiry at the end of this month of an Israeli moratorium on settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

Israeli officials have indicated they will not extend the freeze but the Palestinians have warned they will quit the talks if construction work resumes fully on occupied land. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday