U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel's security requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
Clinton and the visiting Israeli leader ended multiple meetings over seven hours in New York Thursday with a declaration of the U.S. government's "unshakable commitment to Israel's security and to peace in the region."
The two sides said in a joint statement that direct negotiations, which have hit an impasse over Israel's resumption of settlement construction, could yet yield an independent Palestinian state living next to Israel with secure and recognized borders "that meet Israeli security requirements."
Israel wants a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley along the eastern border of a future Palestinian state as well as financial help to pay for security arrangements that would be necessary if a peace deal is achieved.
As she and Mr. Netanyahu headed into the talks, Clinton vowed to find "a way forward." The Israeli leader said he is "quite serious" about reaching what he called a "historic agreement with peace and security" between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu also said he would like to broaden the peace process to include other Arab countries.
Clinton, who Wednesday called the Israeli decision to build 1,300 new apartments in East Jerusalem "counterproductive," said she still believes both Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are serious about the talks. Direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September, after an Israeli moratorium on West Bank settlement building expired.
Clinton's meeting with Mr. Netanyahu comes a day after she announced the U.S. will give the Palestinian Authority an additional $150 million in aid this year. She also said the U.S. does not support "unilateral steps" by either Israel or the Palestinians that could hinder direct negotiations.
On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an "urgent" United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss new Israeli settlement-building. In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu's office insisted that "Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of the state of Israel."
Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.