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Israel Warns Against US, International Pressure for Palestinian Agreement


Israel is warning the United States and other countries not to pressure it into reaching what it says could be a premature Palestinian peace agreement. Israel's chief negotiator says too much pressure could result in another Palestinian uprising and more violence. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Jerusalem.

The United States has been pushing for a deal on Palestinian statehood before President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

On Thursday, just days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits the region, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with reporters and cautioned against any pressure for all sides to rush into an agreement.

"Looking at the political situation in the United States, the international community, other parts of the world, and in Israel, there is a kind of expectations to do something before the end of the year," she said.

Livni said Israel wants to avoid a violent uprising like the one that erupted after U.S. President Bill Clinton tried and failed to get Israel and the Palestinians to reach a deal just before his term ended in the year 2000.

"I think that any attempt to try and bridge gaps that might be premature to reach, or to reach something that is not the comprehensive agreement that we want to reach can lead to doing it wrong just because of the pressure, the international pressure. This can lead to clashes. This can lead to misunderstandings. This can lead to violence as we faced after Camp David 2000 and the circumstances are in a way are similar," she said.

Palestinian officials have been calling for the United States to pressure Israel to push ahead with negotiations.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks launched last November have made little progress and remain stuck on issues including the building of Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and in the West Bank, and the right of return for Palestinians.

Prospects for an agreement anytime soon have been further dimmed after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced in July he would step down after his Kadima party elects a new leader next month.

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