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Minister Katz Photo: Gil Yohanan
Minister Katz Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Minister Katz: Bibi to promote new diplomatic initiative

PM Netanyahu to seek establishment of joint US-Israel committee that would advance new peace initiatives in place of existing plans, Minister Katz says, adds that Bibi has no intention of building new West Bank settlements

Roni Sofer
Published: 05.16.09, 19:44 / Israel News

The Netanyahu government is not committed to a shelf agreement in line with the two-state solution and will seek to advance new initiatives, Minister Yisrael Katz told Ynet Saturday, hours before the PM's departure to Washington.

 

"The current Israeli government is in no way obligated to a shelf agreement based on the two states for two peoples formula," Katz, who is a close associate of Netanyahu, said.

 

The transportation minister, who spoke to Netanyahu in recent days ahead of the PM's meeting with Obama, says that the prime minister will seek to establish a joint American-Israel committee that would advance an alternative Mideastern policy, "which will replace previous initiatives such as the Arab initiative and the diplomatic dialogue conducted by the previous government."

 

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Meanwhile, Katz estimated that following Netanyahu's meeting with Obama at the White House, "the effort to resolve the problem of unauthorized outposts will be accelerated." Dialogue with settler leaders should continue, and the issue can and should be resolved, the minister said.

 

Yet despite the moderate position on the issue, Katz presented views that may outrage the Obama administration in respect to settlement construction, particularly in the Jerusalem area.

 

"The greater Jerusalem should continue to be built, and based on all the understandings – including the ones reached with the Americans - it should be built and reinforced. This includes, in my personal view, the construction in the E1 area, which is part of Maaleh Adumim, and will maintain the contiguity with Jerusalem.

 

"All Zionist parties in Israel believe that the settlement blocs must be boosted and built up, in line with the issue of natural growth," Katz said. "At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu's position is that just like he did not build new settlements in his previous term as PM, he does not intend to do so now."

 

Addressing the possibility of a clash with the Obama administration, Minister Katz said there would be no dispute.

 

"Understandings will be reached with the president and new administration," he said. "It would be possible to reach early agreements with the American president, among other things via the new Israeli-American committee that needs to be formed…later it would be possible to bring in moderate Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan, and with American encouragement even states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others."

 

As to the Iranian question, Minister Katz refused to elaborate, saying that while the issue will be discussed in depth during the meeting, much of it will remain secret.

 

"I am convinced that it would be possible to reach an understanding with the US on this matter," he said. Katz also added that at this time there should be no talks with Syria, noting that "as long as Assad's alliance with Iran continues, there will be no negotiations."

 

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