Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with outgoing US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, and thanked him for his efforts to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu also accused the Palestinians of responsibility for the failure of negotiations during Mitchell's time as mediator. The latter had convinced the Palestinians to hold direct talks with Israel, but the talks were halted after a freeze in West Bank settlement building ended.
"Netanyahu regrets that the Palestinians refused to come to the talks Mitchell was working to promote, piled on an endless number of preconditions that made his job more difficult, and in the end even joined with Hamas," said a statement for the Prime Minister's Office.
The London-based al-Hayyat hinted Saturday at a link between Mitchell's resignation and a speech to be given by US President Barack Obama Thursday, though sources at the White House told a number of news agencies that the speech will not focus on Mideast peace, but rather the uprisings in the Arab world.
According to reports, the 77-year old former senator decided to resign from the position of Mideast envoy in order to spend more time with his family.
Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni also commented on Mitchell's resignation, saying: "Mitchell deserves the appreciation of the entire State of Israel for his efforts to reach a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, even if the mission has not been completed."
"Obtaining a peace agreement is in our national interest, and we must hope that neither of the sides gives up on fulfilling this interest, instead making due with mutual accusations that lead nowhere," she added.
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