Wednesday, July 22, 2009

US sanctions on Israel 'premature'

From THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 21, 2009, by Herb Keinon:

It is "premature" to talk about placing financial sanctions on Israel to get it to stop building beyond the green line, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday night.

..."What we're trying to do," he said, "is to create an environment which makes it conducive for talks to go forward."

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell was working hard on this, Wood said. "And what we all need to do in the international community is support this effort, and that means Americans, that means Arabs and Israelis, [must] do what they can to kind of foster a climate in which the two sides can come together and negotiate their differences peacefully so that we can get to that two-state solution."

Senior White House adviser Dennis Ross will join an already crowded list of top US officials travelling to Israel next week, a step interpreted positively in Jerusalem as an attempt by the Obama administration to engage more constructively with Jerusalem.

...Ross will come in the same week as Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones, who will be coming with some 10 members of his staff.

Asked about the sudden surge in high-level US visitors, one senior Israeli diplomatic official said, "It's about time. It's much better that the two countries discuss the issues between them face-to-face, and not through the media."

US President Barack Obama has come under some criticism recently for ignoring Israel while trying to court the Arab world. These high-level visits, another senior Israeli official said, underscore the importance Washington continues to attribute to its relations with Jerusalem.

...On the brink of this flood of top US officials, one senior Israeli source noted with satisfaction that the US administration's response to Netanyahu's pledge to continue building in east Jerusalem despite American opposition was relatively low-key...
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