Clinton urges Israel, Palestine to tackle core issues of conflict

WASHINGTON. December 11. KAZINFORM U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that now it is time for Israel and the Palestinians to "grapple with core issues" of their decades-long conflict.

Clinton made the remarks in her speech at a forum held by the Washington-based think tank, Brookings Institution.

Just days ago, the United States had said it has abandoned effort to push Israel to extend the moratorium on West Bank settlement activities.

It has undoubtedly dealt a major blow to U.S. effort to sustain the Israeli-Palestinian direct talks which has resumed for only two rounds, as the Palestinians constantly threatened to quit the talks if Jewish settlement building continues.

"It is no secret that the parties have a long way to go and that they have not yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires," Clinton said. "And like many of you, I regret that we have not gotten farther, faster."

Despite the frustration, she vowed that her country will continue to push forward the Middle East peace process and be committed to the two-state solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

"The United States will not be a passive participant," she said. "We will push the parties to lay out their positions on the core issues without delay, in good faith, and with real specificity."

She said the core issues to be discussed include border, security, refugee, settlements and Jerusalem.

The United States said it will arrange indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians in the future. The move will literally draw back the status of Middle East peace process to the one before Sept. 2 when the two sides resumed direct talks in Washington under U.S. mediation.

Following Clinton's speech, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also spoke on the same forum.

"Two states for two peoples is the only true path of Zionism today," Barak said, echoing Clinton's view, Kazinform refers to Xinhuanet.


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