Palestinians complain to Cheney about Israel’s settlements

.RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian leaders asked Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and voiced other complaints that deflated Cheney’s hopeful words about Mideast peace.

Palestinians had little expectation their meetings with Cheney, a strong defender of the Jewish state, would produce anything concrete. While that was the case, the Bush administration did get another chance to nudge the two sides toward an agreement before President Bush leaves office in January. The Palestinians, too, had another shot at expressing their frustrations.

The vice president said neither side should pass up this latest opportunity for an accord despite rancor over Israeli settlements and the retaliatory attacks from each that have disrupted negotiations intended to lead to Palestinian statehood.

“This can be done, and if all concerned stay at the work, success will be achieved,” Cheney said, striking a hopeful tone on Easter Sunday during his first vice presidential visit to the Palestinian territory.

After talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem, Cheney flew to the West Bank by helicopter, touching down at Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential compound near the grave of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004.