U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian territory.


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Clinton delivered her remarks Wednesday in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about Middle East peace efforts.

She said the U.S. would like to see Israel completely halt all settlement activity.

Clinton drew sharp criticism from Palestinian leaders last week when she welcomed Israel's offer to restrain settlement activity in order to start peace negotiations as an "unprecedented" concession.

The 2003 international "roadmap" plan for Middle East peace calls for Israel to halt all settlement activity.

Clinton flew from Morocco to Egypt Tuesday to meet with Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.  He said he wanted Clinton to clarify Washington's position on resuming peace talks while Israel continues to allow Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory.

Speaking earlier in Marrakech, Clinton said the Obama administration remains committed to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to return immediately to peace talks without preconditions.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there must first be a complete halt to all Israeli settlement construction on disputed land.

Clinton met with both men this past Saturday (October 31), and she has called on both sides to resume peace negotiations immediately.  During the conference in Morocco, the U.S. secretary urged Arab foreign ministers to do their part to help support the Middle East peace process.