(Guardian) -- Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, sought to deflect the anger and disappointment of pro-western Arab states today after backing Israel's position that it did not need to freeze settlement activity as a prelude to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians. Clinton was due to meet foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other key Arab states at a G8 conference in Morocco after brief talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah at the weekend. In what appeared to be a significant policy shift she publicly supported the position taken by Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's Likud prime minister, and even praised him for making "unprecedented" concessions.
Amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's much-heralded engagement with the Middle East peace process is going nowhere fast, Arab leaders expressed their fury at Clinton's endorsement of Israel's argument that it is not required to halt settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as the administration had previously demanded. The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt all protested...Earlier today Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, said: "I am telling you that all of us, including Saudi Arabia, including Egypt, are deeply disappointed … with the results, with the fact that Israel can get away with anything without any firm stand that this cannot be done."...Cont'd...LINK