Diplomats Urge Israel to Halt Expansions

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World diplomatic leaders are calling on Israel and the Palestinians to return to peace negotiations, with the goal of creating an independent Palestinian state within two years.

But U.S. and Israeli relations are frayed, and this week in Israel, has been anything but peaceful.

On Friday, the message from Moscow was clear: Israel and the Palestinians had better start talking.

The so-called Quartet, made up of Russia, the European Union, the U.N. and the U.S., called on both sides to build trust.The four leaders urged Israel to stop building in the West Bank.

"The Quartet urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

The Moscow meeting comes after a week of crisis in U.S. and Israeli relations caused by Israel's plans to build more housing. The announcement was made while Vice President Joe Biden was in Jerusalem. Biden said he believed it was deliberate diplomatic sabotage.

"Obviously designed by some in Israel to undermine a peace process that George Mitchell, our negotiator, finally got back on track," he said.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to attempt to reassure the Israelis.

"Our relationship is ongoing and deep and broad, it is strong and enduring," Clinton said.

But she added, "We condemned the announcement and we expect both parties to move toward the proximity talks."

Meanwhile, violence has flared up on the ground all week. Israel struck six targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, in response to a Kassam rocket attack that killed a Thai farm worker in southern Israel.

U.S. Envoy George Mitchell will arrive in Israel Sunday for separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

A report out Friday said Netanyahu will also fly to Washington where he is expected to meet with President Obama next week.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.