Jerusalem's plan 'provocative': Washington

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Obama administration Thursday criticised Israels provocative plans to renovate two deeply contested holy sites in the occupied West Bank. We have asked both parties to refrain from provocative and unilateral actions that undermine efforts to resume negotiations to end the conflict, said US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. We have raised this directly with the Israeli government. The criticism came just a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed hope for resuming long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. We hope that that will commence shortly, she told the Senate Appropriations Committee, noting that President Barack Obamas Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, was laying the groundwork for talks between the two sides. We think its absolutely essential that they begin to talk about the final status issues that divide them that have perpetuated the conflict over all of these years. But were well aware of the difficulties that confront us on this.

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