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Netanyahu proposes his own version of 'Jewish state bill'
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11.22.2014 | 29 Heshvan, 5775
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Diplomacy & Politics
KHALED ABU TOAMEH, HERB KEINON \
Israel, PA lobbying US before Obama's visit
Netanyahu, Obama, Abbas.
(photo credit:REUTERS/Jason Reed )
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday dispatched two senior officials to
Washington to brief the US administration on its stance regarding the resumption
of peace talks with Israel.The decision to send the two officials to
Washington comes on the eve of US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the
region next month. It also comes after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
dispatched his envoy on the Palestinian issue, Yitzhak Molcho, to Washington
last week to discuss the issue. Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Ya’akov
Amidror, is scheduled to go there this week as well.US Secretary of
State John Kerry is also expected to make his first visit here in his new
position at the end of February to discuss the diplomatic process and plan for
the Obama visit. Israeli officials said Kerry was instrumental in convincing
Obama to make the trip to the region now.Molcho, according to Israeli
officials, came back from Washington with the message that while it did not seem
at this point that Obama was going to bring any concrete plan for the diplomatic
process, he did want to see progress in moving the process
forward.Speaking at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Amidror – who is
coordinating the Obama visit – said that the visit will go a long way toward
setting the “foundations” for Israeli-US relations for the next four
years.Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during a meeting with Likud
ministers on Sunday, cited the upcoming Obama visit and diplomatic process that
will be discussed as one reason why he wanted as broad a coalition as
possible.He said in the context of the diplomatic process that only a
broad government would give Israel the ability to show flexibility in talks with
the Palestinians, but not be pushed by one party or the other inside the
government to make “unreasonable concessions.”The two Palestinian
officials going to Washington, Saeb Erekat and Muhammad Shtayyeh, are expected
to reiterate the PA’s demand for a full freeze of settlement construction and
the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as a prerequisite for
resuming the peace talks, a PA official in Ramallah told a German news
agency.According to the official, Erekat and Shtayyeh will also demand
that the negotiations with Israel be based on clear terms of reference,
including previous UN resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab
conflict.The PA officials will also demand that future negotiations with
Israel be resumed from the point where they were halted during the term of
former prime minister Ehud Olmert.Nimer Hammad, political advisor to PA
President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday he was unaware of new Israeli gestures
aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating
table.Hammad was referring to reports in some Israeli media outlets to
the effect that Israel may release Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill sign to
the PA leadership ahead of Obama’s visit next month.Abbas, who is
currently visiting Pakistan, was quoted Sunday as saying that the Israeli
government must choose between “continuing to build illegal settlements and
achieving a just and comprehensive peace.”Abbas said that “despite the
injustices, our hands are still stretched out to peace and we remain committed
to working hard toward achieving the two-state solution.”
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