Israel Rebuffs Clinton's Call

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev responded to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's demand that Israel halt natural growth in its communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

"Israel…will abide by its commitments not to build new settlements and to dismantle unauthorized outposts," Regev said. "[But] normal life must be allowed to continue in these communities," effectively saying that building will continue to accommodate expanding families.

Meanwhile, in Thursday's meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"I'm a strong believer in a two-state solution," Obama told reporters after the meeting. "We cannot continue to drift. We have to get this thing back on track," the President said.

"I think that we don't have a moment to lose, but I also don't make decisions based on just the conversation that we had last week because obviously Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu has to work through these issues in his own government, in his own coalition, just as President Abbas has a whole host of issues that he has to deal with," Obama said.

Obama praised Abbas in his efforts to form a unity government, implying reconciliation Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

For his part, Abbas told reporters that during the meeting, the President affirmed international commitment to a two-state solution, freezing Israeli settlements and restarting negotiations.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, The Associated Press

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