Netanyahu: Decision good for Israel
Photo: Yotam Frum
Clinton: Return to indirect talks
Photo: AFP

Netanyahu welcomes US focus on core issues

Prime minister tells economic forum that Clinton's announcement of intention to focus on borders, refugees, rather than additional settlement freeze will move talks along. 'To reach peace, we have to discuss issues delaying peace,' he says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed on Monday a US decision to drop efforts to achieve a building freeze in Jewish settlements.


"I welcome this American decision. It is good for Israel. It is good for peace," Netanyahu, who resisted US, Palestinian and international calls for a construction moratorium, told an economic forum hours before the arrival of a US peace envoy.


Faced with the collapse of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks over the settlement impasse, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Friday that Washington would return to indirect negotiations.


She said the United States would push to resolve core issues of the six-decade-old conflict. They include borders, security and the future of Jerusalem, settlements in territory Israel occupied in a 1967 war and Palestinian refugees.


A senior US diplomat told reporters in Israel last week: "We reached the conclusion this is not the time to renew direct negotiation by renewing the moratorium".


US Middle East envoy George Mitchell was due back in the region later in the day for talks with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Palestinian officials have voiced concern that Israel would try to undermine any indirect negotiations by avoiding discussion of future borders of a state they intend to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


"To reach peace, we have to discuss the issues that are truly delaying peace ... I welcome the fact that we will now begin discussing these issues and try to narrow gaps," Netanyahu said.


In the speech he cited issues such as his demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state, security arrangements and the future of Palestinian refugees.


On Sunday, in a rare joint interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour, Opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad agreed peace was a common interest and that trust between the sides must be restored.


Livni said during the interview that Netanyahu had erred when he rejected a set of American guarantees in exchange for imposing another construction moratorium in the West Bank. "In choosing between building more buildings or making peace, I prefer to make peace," she said.


Asked whether he planned to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally, Fayyad said "what we are committed to is statehood. Not a declaration of statehood, we're looking for a state. We did make a declaration of statehood (in) 1988. This time we're looking for a real state on the ground."


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פרסום ראשון: 12.13.10, 11:26
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