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Obama, Netanyahu meet to ease tension over Jewish settlement activities

2010-03-24 08:02 BJT

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday evening in the White House, in an effort to ease tensions between the governments over the Jewish settlement activities in East Jerusalem.

The meeting was temporarily decided by the White House on Saturday when U.S. special envoy George Mitchell exerted effort to survive the Israeli-Palestinian indirect talks, which has been suspended since Israel's approval to build more houses in East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Monday for the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential bi-partisan pro-Israel lobby group. But the tour's major task is to ease tensions with the Obama administration.

The Obama administration, who has been trying its best to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, was angry over the Israeli government's approval of 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem on March 9 when Vice President Joe Biden was pushing both Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks.

Both Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued condemnation on the Netanyahu-led government for the move, which was described by Clinton as "an insult" and "a deeply negative signal" about Israel's approach to relations with Washington.

Before the meeting with Obama, Netanyahu told the AIPAC conference that building more houses in the Jewish neighborhoods " in no way precludes the possibility of the two-state solution," stressing that Jerusalem is not a settlement, but the eternal capital of Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu met with some influential Congress members and told the lawmakers that the peace process may be delayed for another year should the Palestinians refused to drop "illogical and unreasonable demand" for Israel's full freeze on Jewish settlements.

The Palestinians insists that the peace talks will not be resumed until the Israeli government totally freezes the Jewish settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the Israeli government claims to ensure the "natural growth" of the Jewish settlements.


Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua