First Published: 2009-06-24

US again slams Netanyahu over settlements

Washington cancels Mitchell’s meeting with Israeli PM in Paris due to Israel's refusal to halt settlement growth.


Middle East Online

Clear message to hardline Netanyahu

JERUSALEM - Washington called off a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Middle East envoy because of Israel's refusal to halt settlement growth, an Israeli newspaper said on Wednesday.

The mass-selling Yediot Aharonot, quoting an unnamed Israeli official, said that Washington issued a "stern" message to Netanyahu to halt all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land, including so-called "natural growth" within existing settlements.

"Once you've finished the homework we gave you on stopping construction in the settlements, let us know. Until then, there's no point in having (US Middle East envoy George) Mitchell fly to Paris to meet you," the official said.

The meeting with Mitchell was to take place in Paris during Netanyahu's first visit to Europe since taking office earlier this year at the head of a hawkish right-wing government.

An Israeli official said Mitchell would instead meet Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday in Washington.

"This delay will enable us to throw light on topical questions which are now hanging in the air and have not been resolved," the official said Tuesday, without elaborating.

In recent weeks Washington has ramped up pressure on Netanyahu's government to halt all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as part of efforts to relaunch the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinians have said they will not meet Netanyahu until Israel halts all settlement activity, and the presence of some 280,000 Israelis in more than 100 settlements across the territory has been seen as a major obstacle to peace efforts.

Netanyahu has vowed not to build new settlements, but said he would allow for "natural growth" within existing settlements, including the main settlement blocs Israel expects to keep in any future peace deal.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in May that President Barack Obama had made it clear during Netanyahu's visit to Washington that he wants no "natural growth exceptions" to his call for a settlement freeze.

The international community considers all settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day war, to be illegal.


Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Tunisia under state of emergency

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison

Egyptians vote in second phase of parliamentary elections

Assad grateful to Russia as army advances on ‘nearly every front’

Obama calls for resolve in face of terrorist threats

Russia bombs ISIS in heaviest strikes since beginning of Syria war