Reuters | 11/13/2010 | 7:04:22 PM ET
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed ministers a five-point U.S. peace plan that included a 90-day settlement freeze, a diplomatic source told reporters on Saturday. The plan also includes a pledge not to seek any extension to the settlement freeze after the 90-day period, a vow to veto any attempts at the United Nations to force a unilateral peace deal and an agreement on supplying Israel with more war planes.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, renewed under Washington’s sponsorship on September 2, broke down a few weeks later when Israel balked at renewing a settlement moratorium.
Netanyahu met his top "Forum of Seven" ministers a day after returning from a week-long U.S. tour that included talks on Thursday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at which she unveiled the plan he showed his cabinet, the source said. Netanyahu hopes he may win approval for the plan from his pro-settler cabinet later this week, political sources said.
Among the pledges offered to Israel by Washington, was a guarantee to veto any resolutions brought to the United Nations Security Council that seek "to impose a political settlement on Israel," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had no immediate comment. Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the Palestinian leader was likely to wait to see whether Israel approved the ideas before issuing any comment.
An additional freeze
Under the plan Israel would "declare an additional suspension of construction" in the West Bank, land it captured from Jordan in a 1967 war, for 90 days. Building begun since a moratorium ended in September, would be halted, the source said. The proposed construction freeze would not include East Jerusalem, an area Israel has annexed as part of its capital in a move never recognized internationally and which Palestinians want as capital of any future state.
MSN News | PTI | 01/09/2010
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing of four Israelis by the Islamist group Hamas in the West Bank, describing it as an attempt to undermine the crucial direct talks between Israel and the Palestine leadership. "This attack must be recognized for what it is: a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations starting tomorrow," Ban said.
Noting that the attack comes just ahead of the peace talks between Israeli and Palestinians that begin tomorrow in Washington, Ban urged parties not to be sidetracked by the attack. "He (Ban) extends his condolences to the families of the victims and calls for the perpetrators of this crime to be promptly brought to justice," a statement from his office said. "Negotiations are the only way for the parties to resolve all final status issues. The Secretary-General calls upon both sides to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to realize the aspirations of both people," it said. The UN has also called for the perpetrators of the attack to be apprehended and prosecuted. "We condemn this murderous act and call for those responsible to be brought to justice," Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement issued in Jerusalem.
BBC News | 30 August 2010 | 06:59 GMT
A senior rabbi from a party within Israel’s coalition government has called for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to "vanish from our world". Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Shas, spoke out as Middle East talks are poised to begin in Washington. The United States condemned the remarks as "deeply offensive". Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from the comments with a statement saying that his government wanted peace with the Palestinians. The attack on Mr Abbas, delivered in the rabbi’s weekly sermon, also prompted chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat to condemn the remarks as "an incitement to genocide". Mr Erakat urged the Israeli government "to do more about peace and stop spreading hatred", the AFP news agency reported.
‘Regret and condemn’
Rabbi Yosef expressed the wish that "all the nasty people who hate Israel, like Abu Mazen (Abbas), vanish from our world". He went on to say: "May God strike them down with the plague along with all the nasty Palestinians who persecute Israel." The remarks come as Mr Netanyahu is due in Washington this week for direct peace talks with Mr Abbas. US President Barack Obama hopes to bring the leaders together on Thursday for the first face-to-face discussions since December 2008, when the Palestinians broke off negotiations over Israel’s offensive against the Gaza Strip. The US response to Rabbi Yosef, a founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was swift. In a statement, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said: "We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. These remarks are not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace."
Reuters | Sun Jul 18, 2010 | 9:45pm IST
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Palestinian and Israeli leaders and the U.S. peace envoy on Sunday with a return to direct talks on the agenda, but a breakthrough still seemed distant. Egypt has long played a mediating role in Middle East politics, but it is unusual for Cairo to host different leaders on the same day. Shuttle diplomacy has been the preferred way of operating. None of the visitors saw the others, instead having back-to-back talks with Mubarak, who was flanked by his foreign minister and top intelligence officer. U.S. envoy George Mitchell, who has shuttled between the main players since a four-month window for indirect talks was agreed in May, held an hour-long meeting, then hurriedly left the presidency without briefing reporters. Minutes after Mitchell’s convoy of tinted-window white cars rolled out, a convoy of black cars rolled in, escorting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Mitchell met on Saturday in Ramallah. Half an hour later Abbas was gone, again without speaking to reporters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived soon after Abbas’ departure. The Egyptian state news agency MENA reported that Mubarak’s talks with all three men focused on "efforts to create the conditions necessary to advance the peace process and achieve a two-state solution". It did not elaborate.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters after the meetings that direct talks were not possible yet, but there was still time. "We are still hopeful that we can bridge this gap. The gap between the needs for security for Israel and the borders for the Palestinians," he said. "They (the Israelis) claim that they are determined to offer the Palestinians a good deal," he said, adding that Egypt was encouraging the United States to keep pushing for face-to-face talks. In a statement after the talks, Netanyahu said: "President Mubarak represents the aspiration for widening the cycle of peace and preserving the stability and security of the peoples of the region. I again found in him a key partner in achieving those important goals."
BBC News | Thursday, 13 May 2010 | 09:06 GMT
The US administration has warned against an Israeli government announcement it could continue to demolish buildings in East Jerusalem. An unnamed Obama administration official told Israeli media the US "calls on both sides to avoid inflammatory actions in Jerusalem". On Wednesday an Israeli minister said the demolition of illegally built homes of Arabs could continue. Last week indirect talks began between Israelis and Palestinians. The US State Department official was quoted as saying that they hoped the indirect negotiations, known as "proximity talks", would lead to direct negotiations between the parties and steps that would "resolve this issue once and for all".
"If either side takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond and hold them accountable and ensure negotiations will continue," the official said. On Wednesday Interior Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch had told Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that there was no government order barring the demolition of homes illegally built by Arabs in East Jerusalem. He said that demolitions had been postponed in recent months to avoid harming the attempts by US Senator George Mitchell to reopen indirect talks. "As of right now there is no directive for police not to implement demolition orders," he said.