MARRAKECH, Morocco (AFP/Reuters) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday called on Israel to make greater efforts to ease tensions with Palestinians and said the United States still opposes new Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The top US diplomat, who is on a tour to relaunch Middle East peace talks, praised efforts by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to improve security and said Israel must reciprocate. The United States had urged a total halt to new Israeli construction in the West Bank as a precursor to new negotiations, but on Saturday Clinton said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus offer to restrict new building was unprecedented. Clinton said Monday that Netanyahus offer falls far short of our preferences but was still worth seizing. If it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and will have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth, Clinton said ahead of an international conference of Arab foreign ministers in Marrakech, Morocco. The Obama administrations position on settlements is clear and unequivocal. It has not changed. The US does not accept the legitimacy of continuing Israeli settlements. Clinton said she has pressured Israel to do much more to reciprocate measures taken by the Palestinians to improve security. I told Prime Minister Netanyahu that these positive steps on the part of the Palestinians should be met by positive steps from Israel on movements, access ... and Israeli security arrangements in the West Bank, she said. Israel has done a few things in that regard but they need to do much more, Clinton said. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has shown leadership and determination regarding concerns over security, she said, and Israel should reciprocate. The United States is trying to rally Arab support for embattled Palestinian leader Abbas. Clinton is also to meet on Monday with Moroccos King Mohammed VI, who according to a government source will push an Arab peace initiative offering a full normalisation of ties in exchange for a return to pre-1967 borders. Ahead of the Marrakech conference, a US official argued that Netanyahu goes further in his willingness to restrain the settlements than any Israeli government before. While we reject the legitimacy of settlements, we also do not feel that they should be a precondition for negotiations, said Clintons spokesman, Philip Crowley. The Arab world, however, was unconvinced. According to the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, Abbas and his aides were astonished by Clintons support of Netanyahus offer. Even the left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz was puzzled by Clintons position. All US presidents since (the 1993 Oslo accords), including Hillary Clintons husband, treated the settlements just like the weather: an interesting topic for conversation, but impossible to change. But Barack Obama has promised a change, not more of the same, the paper said. Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who is also in Morocco, said earlier on Monday he feared US President Barack Obamas drive to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks could be heading for failure over the settlement issue. Clinton was in Morocco to begin sounding out Arab officials after a meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem at which she endorsed Israels view that settlement expansion in the West Bank should not be a bar to resuming negotiations. The Arab League chief said Arab states shared the Palestinian position that resuming negotiations was futile without a freeze on settlement expansion. 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, Moussa told reporters. Asked if Obamas initiative to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had failed, he said: I still wait until we have our meetings and decide what we are going to do. But failure is in the atmosphere all over. Mussa told AFP he feared Washingtons diplomatic push had been brought back to the starting point due to Israels refusal to halt settlement building in the West Bank, a Palestinian precondition for the resumption of talks. It has brought us back to the starting point, Mussa, who is in Marrakech for an Arab foreign ministers meeting, told AFP in a phone interview. We have clear fears. Israel wants to resume negotiations without preconditions. It wants to remove the issue of Jerusalem (from negotiations), without stopping settlements, he said. There are a lot of consultations to see what should be done in the light of the position taken by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas not to resume negotiations before a halt to settlements, which is sensible and has Arab backing, he said.