By VOA News
04 March 2009
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and is set to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his West Bank headquarters.
Officials say the Palestinian leaders are urging Clinton to push Israel to freeze construction in West Bank settlements and open blockaded Gaza Strip borders.
Clinton also visited Egypt and Israel this week as part of an effort to revive the Middle East peace process.
She said Tuesday the United States will vigorously pursue the creation of a Palestinian state, calling its establishment "inescapable."
The position could put Clinton at odds with Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who does not favor conceding land to Palestinians.
Mr. Netanyahu said Clinton voiced a strong desire for future cooperation when the two met Tuesday in Jerusalem.
The Likud party leader is trying to form a coalition government, but he has had trouble persuading moderate Israeli parties to join him.
Clinton said Washington is committed to Israel's security, and added that rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into Israel must stop because no nation can "stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum criticized Clinton's comments, saying they give approval of Israel's "occupation" of Gaza.
Earlier Tuesday, Clinton met Israeli President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The secretary of state reassured Israeli leaders that any U.S. engagement with Iran will have the same goal of dissuading and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and continuing to fund terrorism.
Clinton wrapped up her trip to Israel with a meeting with outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert.
Clinton arrived in Israel after attending a donor conference in Egypt that raised more than $5 billion in pledges to support the Palestinian economy and rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel's deadly military offensive.