Hillary says Mideast peace `within reach`

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are committed and serious about making peace, which is "within reach."

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2010, 23:41 PM IST

Amman: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said on Thursday that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders
are committed and serious about making peace, which is "within
reach."

She was speaking in Amman after talks with King
Abdullah II as this week`s thorny peace talks continue apace
between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"They are serious about this effort. They are
committed. They have begun to grapple with the hard but
necessary questions," Clinton said of the two men.

"With the commitment of an Israeli prime minister and
a Palestinian president who both embrace the goal of a
two-state solution, peace is once again within reach."

Speaking at a press conference with Jordanian
counterpart Nasser Judeh, she said Netanyahu and Abbas "can
make the difficult decisions necessary to resolve all the ...
issues within one year."

She added that she is "convinced that this the time
and these are the leaders who can achieve the results we all
seek, two states, two peoples living in peace and security.

Clinton was in Amman after meeting in the West Bank
with Abbas, who publicly pledged his support for the US-backed
peace talks despite continuing difficulties over the question
of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas said "conditions are difficult" but that "there
is no choice but negotiations."

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said the talks were
"in-depth and serious" and that the discussions would continue
on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New
York next week.

But a senior Palestinian official said the "gap
remains wide" on the settlements dispute despite Clinton`s
intervention during the past two days of peace talks in Egypt
and Jerusalem.

The talks "were difficult and made no progress," he
said about a trilateral meeting on Wednesday in Jerusalem.

In that meeting Abbas again threatened to quit the
peace talks if Israel did not renew a moratorium on the
construction of new homes in West Bank settlements that
expires at the end of the month, according to a senior aide.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thus far
refused to extend the partial ban despite the urging of US
President Barack Obama, though he has hinted he would confine
building to major settlement blocs.

The Palestinians want to focus on reaching a deal on
final borders as a way of resolving the settlements dispute,
and US mediators have suggested a three-month extension of the
moratorium to allow for such a deal, the Palestinian official
said.

PTI