US urges restraint from Israel, Palestinians - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

US urges restraint from Israel, Palestinians

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King Abdullah II of Jordan, right, meets with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, left, in Amman, Jordan, Monday, March, 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Nader Daoud, Pool) King Abdullah II of Jordan, right, meets with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, left, in Amman, Jordan, Monday, March, 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Nader Daoud, Pool)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The Obama administration is seeking to establish conditions for the stalled Israel-Palestinian talks to resume, U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell said Monday, urging the two sides to exercise restraint.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said the Palestinians wanted to give "a chance" to indirect talks with Israel mediated by the United States.

Mitchell and Erekat spoke in Amman, the Jordanian capital, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to Washington. His trip there comes as U.S. and Israeli officials try to ease one of their worst-ever crises that erupted when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new apartments in east Jerusalem, the part of the city that the Palestinians want as capital of their future state.

The announcement, made during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, threw U.S.-sponsored peace talks into doubt and helped set off Palestinian protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On Monday, Mitchell told reporters that the U.S. will continue talking to Israel and the Palestinians as "we seek to establish the conditions which will make possible the early commencement of proximity talks."

He did not elaborate, but added: "We urge all sides to exercise restraint...What is needed now is a period of calm, quiet in which we can go forward in the effort in which we are engaged."

The U.S. wants to "enter proximity talks at the earliest possible time in a manner in which we hope will lead to direct negotiations and ultimately to an agreement that leads to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Mitchell said after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.

Washington, he said, envisaged a future Palestinian state that is "economically independent, geographically contiguous."

The American later met with Jordan's King Abdullah II, a strong U.S. ally and the leader of only two Arab nations that signed peace treaties with Israel.

A palace statement quoted Abdullah as telling Mitchell that Israel "must stop all unilateral measures in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially provocative moves aimed at changing Jerusalem's identity and threaten its holy sites."

Separately, Erekat condemned Israel's "settlement activities" in east Jerusalem and added: "We need to give the proximity talks the chance they deserve, but we want to make sure that the decisions of the Israeli government to construct 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem and more to come is really stopped."

He said the Palestinians also wanted assurances that similar Israeli moves would be prevented in the future.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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