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State Dept. blames Goldstone for stalled peace talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Goldstone report drove the Israelis and Palestinians apart, a U.S. State Department official said.

The aside by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State P.J. Crowley in a briefing for reporters Tuesday was the clearest signal of U.S. frustration with the United Nations Human Rights Council report into last winter’s Gaza war, authored by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, that recommended war crimes charges against Israel and Hamas.

"It’s not a failure, because the process isn’t over," Crowley said of Palestinian-Israel talks. "The process is ongoing. But clearly, in the aftermath of the Goldstone report, we’ve seen this fairly substantial gap emerge, and we’re seeing what we can do to move both sides closer to a decision to enter into negotiations."

After its publication in September, Israel insisted on quashing the report as a precondition for going forward with the peace process; the Palestinian Authority has insisted it be addressed.

Crowley was describing the status of U.S. efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks in the wake of a meeting that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had Monday with her Saudi Arabian counterpart, Saud bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz.

"Our focus of the discussion yesterday, and it remains our focus right now, is to see what we can do to try to encourage the parties, all of them, to move beyond kind of the cul-de-sac that we find ourselves in, and to continue to refocus on the future and see what we can do to get the process moving forward again, and to ultimately convince the parties to enter into a negotiation," Crowley said. "Obviously, for other countries in the region, we continue to encourage them to provide support to [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and to be prepared to take meaningful steps if and when we get to a point where we think that the parties are prepared to consider negotiations."

 
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