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UK consul visits Hebron, condemns settlements

Jan. 29, 2013 9:49 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2013 6:07 P.M.)
Correction appended

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- UK consul-general to Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean met Wednesday with Hebron's governor Kamil Hmeid Tuesday and expressed concerns about Israeli settlement expansion.

Fean said the Palestinian Authority had the right to control its territory and expressed concern over Israeli settlements and land confiscation "which could foil the two-state solution."

British officials "should visit Hebron regularly to get updates from the governor about the current situation in Hebron and report to the UK government, especially about H2 and east Yatta areas,” Fean said.

Fean noted reports that the newly appointed US secretary of state, John Kerry, was considering a visit to the region in the hopes of restarting the Middle East peace process.

Also Tuesday, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the outcome of Israel's parliamentary elections "opens doors" toward peace with the Palestinians.

Referring to the possible inclusion of center-left parties in Benjamin Netanyahu's next government, she said the elections improved the climate for resuming the peace process.

"I actually think this election opens doors, not nails them shut," Clinton told an online forum in response to a question from a student in Beirut. She said a "significant percentage of the Israeli electorate" chose a "different path" internally as well as toward their neighbors.

"What rests at the core of the problem is great mistrust" on both sides, said the outgoing secretary of state. "Somehow we have to look for ways to give the Palestinian people the path to peace, prosperity and statehood they deserve" as well as security for Israelis, Clinton said.

"I know that President Obama (and) my successor, soon-to-be Secretary of State John Kerry, will pursue this, will look for every possible opening."

(This version CORRECTS that Sir Vincent Fean commented on reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry, not UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, was considering a visit to the region.)
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