State Dept.: We still want a freeze, but it’s up to the parties


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The State Department said its demand for a complete Israeli settlement freeze is "unchanged," but that peace talks could resume before a freeze.

"Ultimately, this is not a process by which the United States will impose conditions on Israel, on the Palestinian Authority, on other countries," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "Ultimately, the judgment as to both getting to negotiations and getting to a successful conclusion is something that the parties will have to make."

Crowley was responding to reports that the United States had agreed to leave eastern Jerusalem out of its demand for a complete settlement freeze. He denied that the U.S. position on settlements had changed and said there was a lot of "posturing" going on. But he reiterated that the Israelis and Palestinians would decide when negotiations would begin, not the Americans.

"We have our ideas, and we put forward our ideas publicly and privately about what it will take for negotiations to be restarted," Crowley said. "But ultimately it’ll be up to the parties themselves, with our help, to determine whether that threshold has been met."

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