US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently visiting Israel, angered the Palestinians on Saturday when she praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to get peace talks back on track and rejected Palestinian preconditions.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Netanyahu, Clinton said the Israeli leader had implemented "unprecedented" concessions by partially freezing the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for the sake of restarting the peace process.
Senior Palestinian Authority official Nabil Abu Rudeineh shot back by insisting that any continuation of Jewish construction in areas claimed by the Palestinians, including Jerusalem, made peace talks impossible.
"A settlement freeze and acknowledging the terms of reference is the only way towards peace negotiations," said Rudeineh. "Settlement is illegitimate and it is not possible to accept any justification for the continuation of the settlement activity or to defend it in the lands occupied [sic] in 1967, including Jerusalem."
In her remarks, Clinton was adamant that a settlement freeze had never been a precondition in the past, and as far as Washington is concerned, would not be one now.
Netanyahu again urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, where he would be happy to hear and address their further concerns regarding the building of Jewish homes on ancient Jewish lands.