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Mitchell: America supports Palestinian aspirations

JERUSALEM (JTA) — America will not turn its back on the Palestinians’ "legitimate aspiration for a state," George Mitchell said.

The U.S. envoy to the Middle East made the statement Wednesday following a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.  

"The president of the United States and secretary of state have made our policy clear: The only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states," Mitchell said.

Mitchell met Tuesday with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, telling them that the United States and Israel "are and will remain close allies and friends."

Mitchell and Netanyahu met Tuesday evening for four hours, including two hours privately, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

"Israel is working to advance peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors and with the wider Arab world," Netanyahu told Mitchell. 

Mitchell and Barak met in Tel Aviv, where they discussed the issue of settlement construction, according to reports.

"(T)he United States’ commitment to the security of Israel remains unshakeable," Mitchell told Peres. "The United States under President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton remains fully committed to working with our friends, our allies and our partners, and to achieve that comprehensive peace."

Obama sent Mitchell to the region in an attempt to jump-start peace talks as well as to ease the situation in Gaza.

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