Mitchell and Abbas
Photo: AFP
Meeting with Netanyahu
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom
Mitchell: US won't turn its back on Palestinians
After meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, US special envoy says President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton 'made our policy clear - the only viable resolution to conflict is two-state solution'

US envoy George Mitchell met Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday, reiterating that the two-state solution was the only viable answer to the Middle East conflict.


"The president of the United States (Barack Obama) and Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) have made our policy clear - the only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states," Mitchell told reporters after the meeting in Ramallah.


"As President Obama said last week, America will not turn... (its) back on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own," he said, referring to Obama's address to the Muslim world. 

The US envoy also reiterated statements he made the previous day in meetings with Israeli leaders that Washington was seeking "conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations."


And he said that both Israelis and Palestinians had obligations under the 2003 international Road Map peace plan that among other things calls on Palestinians to halt violence and on Israel to stop settlement activity.


Tuesday evening Mitchell met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.


"Israel is working to promote peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors and with the wider Arab world," Netanyahu announced after his four-hour meeting with Mitchell.


In his meeting with Netanyahu, Mitchell stressed that Israel and the US are allies and that the bond between them is unbreakable.


Mitchell's visit received an encouraging boost from Damascus on Tuesday, as Hamas head in Syria Khaled Mashaal said American pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction was a necessary move for the revival of the political process.


Mashaal, for his part said urged the international community to recognize his organization as a "positive instrument" in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.


"President Obama is speaking a new language, but we expect real pressure on the Israelis," Mashaal said. "There are demands that Israel freeze settlement construction, but this is not that price we are looking for, despite that fact that it is an important step."


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