Clinton Aims To Revive Talks In Netanyahu Meeting

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with Palestinian and Israeli leaders over the next two days, in an effort to revive Middle East peace talks. The meetings come amid new tensions over Israeli housing construction plans in occupied territory.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries, again, to revive Mid East peace talks today. She meets in New York with Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Just yesterday she announced a $150 aid package for Palestinians. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN: As she announced the transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority, Secretary Clinton acknowledged the difficult task she has to nudge Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. Palestinians say they won't talk until Israel stops building on occupied land, and Clinton says she was deeply disappointed that Israel announced, this week, that it would build more apartments in sensitive areas of Jerusalem.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (State Department): We have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem.

KELEMEN: Netanuyahu's office issued a defiant statement saying Jerusalem is not a settlement but Israel's capital. And the prime minister used a speech in New Orleans this week to call on Palestinians to return to talks without preconditions.

Prime Minister BENJAMI NETANUYAHU (Israel): There are Palestinian leaders, important ones, who say they want to live peacefully next to Israel. And to them I say something very simple: if you want to live peacefully next to us, come and negotiate peace with us.

KELEMEN: Palestinians says it is Israel that has to make a choice - settlements or peace. And they've suggested they might look to the U.N. to help their cause. Dan Diker of the World Jewish Congress and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs says that would be a disaster.

Mr. DAN DIKER (World Jewish Congress, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs): If the Palestinians go unilateral and try to establish a Palestinian state either by declaring it unilaterally, by going to the U.N. unilaterally, by trying to force a resolution unilaterally, that will be a declaration of diplomatic warfare on the international community, on the United States and on past signed agreements.

KELEMEN: He says Netanyahu should be making this case in today's talks with Secretary Clinton in New York. Secretary Clinton says both sides have to avoid unilateral actions if they want to reach a two state solution.

Secretary CLINTON: The only way to get there is to have these negotiations. And the United States stands ready to do everything we can to support that.

KELEMEN: She met, yesterday, with Egypt's foreign minister who commended the U.S. for what he called a real effort and who said if the talks do resume, he hopes they won't break down as quickly as the last attempt.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

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