Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed opposition Wednesday to continued
world power talks with Iran as it plows forward with its nuclear program, even
as the P5+1 is set to hold another round of talks with Iran on Friday in
Before meeting visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen
Barth Eide, Netanyahu said Iran must not be allowed to develop a model whereby
it negotiates while in parallel it both develops and threatens to use nuclear
Until now Netanyahu has been careful not to explicitly come out
against the P5+1 – the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain
– talks with Iran. Following last month’s round of talks he said their only
achievement was to enable the Iranians to buy more time.
there were “many issues in the Middle East,” including the Palestinian issues,
but “I think they will be overshadowed if Iran believes it has a license to
develop atomic weapons and it pursues the development of these
We have to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
While talks in
the recent past between Norwegian foreign ministers and Israeli prime ministers
generally focused on the Palestinian issue, this time the bulk of the discussion
focused on Iran, government officials said.
Eide, speaking with Netanyahu
before the meeting, said that Norway was a member of the International Atomic
Energy Agency and is “really concerned about the [Iranian] lack of cooperation,
and the fact that we’re allowed to go to the irrelevant sites but not to the
[nuclear] sites we want to see.”
He said this was something “we’re
raising the volume on.”
In addition to meeting with Netanyahu, Eide also
met with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and with Economy and Trade Minister
Bennett suggested to Eide that his country reconsider
its Middle East polices in light of the changing regional
“Thousands of rockets that fell on Israel from the Gaza Strip
destroyed any remaining faith the Israeli public had in exchanging land for
peace,” he said.
“Now we need to defend ourselves by ourselves,” Bennett
added. “Israeli children deserve to return to school after the holiday without
being afraid a rocket will fall on their classroom.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Israel Monday evening
for the second time in just over two weeks, to continue searching for a formula
that will lead to the restarting of negotiations with the
Kerry held four hours of talks with Netanyahu and Livni on
March 23, the day after US President Barack Obama left Israel. The secretary of
state is expected to meet with Netanyahu Monday evening, and with the
Palestinian Authority leadership the following morning.
official said that while he could not say how often Kerry would be shuttling to
the region, “we expect to see his continued involvement.”
Minister Ze’ev Elkin, meanwhile, gave the green light to Livni – who is to head
Israel’s team if and when negotiations restart with the Palestinian Authority –
to co-opt Foreign Ministry officials for the negotiating team. Livni put
together a negotiating team when she was foreign minister in 2008 and conducted
negotiations with Ahmed Qurei.
According to Israeli officials, Kerry is
scheduled to fly to London on Monday.
Prior to coming to Israel, Kerry
will visit Turkey for the second time in less than two months, Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press conference with European Union foreign
policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday in Ankara.
Davutoglu said he
and Kerry will meet Sunday and “discuss the steps to be taken in the Middle East
Shortly after Netanyahu issued an apology last month to
the Turkish people for operational mistakes that may have led to the unnecessary
loss of life on the Mavi Marmara, Turkish officials said they would now have a
key role in the Israeli- Palestinian diplomatic process.
said he and Kerry will discuss “Syria, Iraq and Cyprus.”
Washingtonbased Politico website dubbed Kerry’s visit an “emergency trip” that
comes “amid worries that the Obama administration’s newly brokered friendship
between Turkey and Israel risks unraveling.”
According to the website,
the administration is concerned about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan’s plans to visit the Gaza Strip, and said this could undermine the
USbrokered rapprochement. These plans, according to this report, were met by
disapproval in the State Department.
Another topic on the agenda for
Kerry in Turkey will be Erdogan’s upcoming meeting with Obama. The Hurriyet
Daily News reported that the meeting will take place on May 16, and only became
possible after Erdogan accepted Netanyahu’s apology. That apology was part of a
framework for an improvement in Turkish-Israeli ties that the US had been
advocating for months.
One Israeli official would not rule out the
possibility that Erdogan’s meeting with Obama was arranged only when it became
clear that Erdogan – despite comments he made immediately after the apology –
would not travel to Gaza in April as he announced. The US fears that an Erdogan
visit to Gaza would, among other things, boost Hamas at the expense of PA
President Mahmoud Abbas.