State Dept.: ‘Premature’ to talk about financial pressure


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Talk of financial pressure on Israel to freeze settlement building is "premature," the State Department spokesman said.

Robert Wood was asked Tuesday whether the Obama administration was considering financial disincentives to resolve differences between Israel and the United States on settlement expansion.

Wood said George Mitchell, President Obama’s envoy to the region, was endeavoring to resolve the issue through diplomacy.

"He is traveling — he’s been to the region a few times, as you know," he said. "He is planning to travel again."

Both sides must live up to commmitments, Wood said, although he emphasized containing settlement growth.

"I think we’ve been very clear with regard to settlements," he said. "They need to stop, and that includes natural growth. I don’t have anything more to add to that.

"The Israelis are well aware of our position. And we’ll obviously continue to have talks with the Israelis on this subject and other issues, but our policy remains the same."

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