Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman continued to propagate his recently formulated plan for a second disengagement from Gaza on Sunday, after a meeting with the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
Lieberman said many statesmen worldwide were interested in his plan. "I presented it at a convention in Kazakhstan before 20 foreign ministers, and they all expressed interest," he said.
Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, he said he had also presented the plan to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that it had not yet received support from either him or the Cabinet.
"There are pitiable people in Gaza as well as Israel," said the minister, who has encouraged economic projects such as the construction of a power plant, purification plant, and infrastructure in the Strip as part of his plan.
"I believe we will be able to make better progress on these issues than the political issue," Lieberman said, with a wink at the stalled peace process and Netanyahu's attempts at direct talks with the Palestinians.
But despite the gibe, Lieberman called on Ashton to convince the Palestinian Authority to enter into direct talks with Israel as soon as possible.
After visiting Gaza earlier Sunday, Ashton called for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit at the Jerusalem press conference.
She said she had not discussed the matter with Hamas, but that she had presented the European Union's stance while in the Strip. She added that she could understand Aviva and Noam Shalit's pain after four years of their son's captivity. Ashton is scheduled to meet with the soldier's parents on Monday.
The foreign policy chief also voiced support for direct peace talks, but said any solution should include Gaza and deal with core issues – including the refugees, borders, and east Jerusalem.
Ashton added that she was concerned about the recent demolition of Palestinian homes in the capital, and said Israel should avoid moves that could harm the peace process.
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