Clinton's Mideast Push Hits Brick Wall

Palestinians rebuff Israeli offer to slow but not stop settlements
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2009 11:30 PM CDT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a press conference in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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(Newser) – Hillary Clinton's day of diplomacy in the Mideast yielded little progress. She met separately with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu but did not secure a deal to restart peace talks. The main sticking point: Abbas rebuffed an offer from Netanyahu—and relayed by Clinton—to slow but not stop new settlements. Clinton called the offer "unprecedented," but Abbas called it a "non-starter," reports the New York Times.

“Mr. Netanyahu has a choice, settlements or peace, and he has chosen settlements," said Abbas. Netanyahu said no such restrictions on settlements have ever been a condition for talks, notes the Wall Street Journal. Clinton agreed: "What the prime minister is saying is historically accurate," she said. "What the prime minister has offered ... is unprecedented in the context of prior to negotiations."