PA, Israeli officials in D.C., but not in talks


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Palestinian and Israeli leaders will not meet for negotiations although they will be in Washington this weekend, the U.S. State Department said.

"Right now, I’m not anticipating that we would have Israelis and the Palestinians in the same room at this time," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday.

The United States this week abandoned efforts to persuade Israel into extending a moratorium on settlement building as a means of pulling the Palestinians back into direct talks. Crowley’s remark suggested that the Obama administration for the time being was giving up on direct talks.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will be in Washington this weekend to address the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

At the same event, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton willl outline U.S. plans for the talks going forward. George Mitchell, Clinton’s top envoy to the talks, will be in the region next week.

In a separate interview with Israeli media, Crowley said the U.S. posture opposing settlements remained the same.

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements, and we will continue to express that position," he was quoted by Haaretz as saying.

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