Clinton: Israel, Palestinians Serious About Peace

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Israeli and Palestinian leaders are already "getting down to business" in tackling the key issues at the heart of their conflict.

JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Israeli and Palestinian leaders are already "getting down to business" in tackling the key issues at the heart of their conflict.

But Clinton gave no indication Wednesday that the sides are any closer to resolving the most immediate stumbling block to newly relaunched peace talks: a Palestinian threat to quit the negotiations if Israel doesn't extend a curb on West Bank settlement construction.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, greets Israel's president, Shimon Peres, ahead of the second day of talks. Photograph: Darren Whiteside/Reuters

Clinton is in Jerusalem for a second day of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a day after meeting the leaders at a summit in Egypt.

Addressing reporters, Clinton said they already have "begun to grapple with the core issues" in their conflict. But she made no mention of the settlement dispute.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will try to defuse a looming crisis over Israeli settlement construction in talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

Palestinians are threatening to walk out of just-resumed negotiations if Israel doesn't extend its curb on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, due to expire in late September.

Clinton will try to bridge the gap in meetings with the two sides in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested some curbs will remain. But he is resisting U.S. pressure to continue the more sweeping slowdown he pushed through his reluctant Cabinet 10 months ago.

The three sides tackled the problem in meetings in Egypt on Tuesday, but no breakthroughs were announced.