Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Likud's Silvan Shalom [File].
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Palestinian Authority leadership responded Tuesday to the appointment of Vice Premier Silvan Shalom as the Israeli representative for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks if negotiations renew, saying that it is unimportant who will mediate because Prime Minister Netanyahu isn't interested in peace.
According to Israel Radio, the officials said that there is no point in meeting with Shalom until Israel agrees to a number of preconditions including the end of building over the Green Line, the return to 1967 borders and the release of prisoners in Israeli jails.
Shalom, a former foreign minister and current interior minister, will take over for ex-justice minister Tzipi Livni as the government’s representatives in talks. His appointment was announced after Netanyahu told Likud officials that he would like the peace process with the Palestinians to resume soon, in closed conversations last week.
Shalom will meet with Livni in the coming days to learn what happened behind the scenes in the previous negotiations, which were mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry. He expressed confidence that he could bring about renewed talks despite a Palestinian decision to focus on persuading the international community to impose a solution on Israel.
Israel has consistently refused to halt building over the Green Line.
At a speech Netanyahu gave in the Knesset on Tuesday in honor of Jerusalem Day, he said Israel’s right to build anywhere in its united capital is based on 3,000 years of history that date back to the Bible.
Those who refuse to except that Jerusalem is the nation’s capital are the same ones who deny that Israel is a Jewish state, he said.
Netanyahu said he had given instructions to build everywhere in Jerusalem, including new homes for Israeli-Arabs. In his Knesset speech, he specifically mentioned that he had given instructions to build in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem over the Green Line, such as Har Homa.
“I have a clear position: We are building in Jerusalem,” he said.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA president’s office, said that Netanyahu's remarks contradicted UN and Arab summit resolutions, as well as international conventions.
“There will be no peace and stability in the Middle East without east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state,” Abu Rudaineh said.
Gil Hoffman, Khaled Abu Toameh, Tovah Lazaroff and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.