Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud-Beiteinu) said Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "has less control of Palestinians than Assad has over Syria." Speaking prior to Sunday's cabinet meeting, Katz said that Abbas does not represented Gaza and that a million and a half Palestinians under Hamas ' rule oppose the decision to renew negotiations.
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"Just as nobody is seriously considering giving lands to Assad in the current climate, we cannot seriously consider giving lands to the Palestinians," Katz said but stressed, "nevertheless, there is room to resume negotiations – it improves the strategic situation."
"Most of the people in Israel are skeptical because they see Abu Mazen's status and what's happening in the region. I doubt this will have any results."
Katz. Doubtful talks will succeed (Photo: Flash 90)
The minister explained that Netanyahu's pledge to put a future agreement up for a referendum allows him, as a person who opposes the process, to be part of it. "I am confident that Netanyahu will keep his word – if the process indeed leads to anything substantial, which I doubt it will."
Minister for Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz echoed the sentiment. He acknowledged that negotiations will contribute to Israel's security in a time of regional turmoil but was not optimistic about its chances of success.
"Abu Mazen doesn't appear to be particularly enthused to return to the negotiating table or determined to make concessions and that's why I'm very cautiously optimistic."
He further added, "We shouldn't build our hopes up high because the Palestinian side is problematic with its incitement, anti-Semitism and unwillingness to recognize the State of Israel, regardless of the fact that Abu Mazen doesn’t even control Gaza. We might be able to reach an interim solution if not a full-scale agreement."
Palestinian prisoners. 'Only after talks progress' (Photo: Reuters)
Referring to the release of prisoners, Steinitz said that releasing a limited amount of prisoners if negotiations progress does not compromise Israel's strategic bargaining position. "It's not a construction freeze or 1967 borders," he said.
He further added, "We have a tough road ahead of us. Israel will have to make painful concessions as will the Palestinians. All we can do is hope that things go as smoothly as they possible can. It's no secret that some members of the government are against negotiations. The prime minister is able to lead this (process)."
Minister of Welfare and Social Services was also excited. "This is a very bold move by the prime minister and I would love to see calm at the end of negotiations. There is nothing better Israel can do than to enter into negotiations and emerge from the diplomatic isolation."
Meanwhile, Habayit Hayehudi 's Ori Orbach, the minister for senior citizens, said that at this stage his party has no intentions of leaving the coalition.
"Releasing terrorists is not a price one pays to enter negotiations," he said. "They start, and then one sees how they progress. Israel is entering (talks) without preconditions or talks about 1967 borders and a freeze."
Orbach remarked that his party is not being withheld any information and has no plans of leaving the coalition. "We can move towards a settlement without any aspirations for cosmic peace. We have Palestinians around us, we mustn't delude ourselves or be fooled by promises, threats and temptations."
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