(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The status of a document spelling out US commitments to Israel in return for a
90-day settlement building moratorium extension remained murky on Monday, with
Shas head Eli Yishai saying the talks on the matter had reached a dead-end,
while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed that the discussions were
“Contacts with the Americans are continuing with the
good will of both sides to arrive at written understandings that will make
possible bringing them to the security cabinet,” Netanyahu said in a
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Security Cabinet okays Ghajar unilateral withdrawal
Netanyahu was responding to Yishai’s comment to Israel Radio
earlier in the day that the sides had reached a “dead-end“ regarding
construction in Jerusalem.
“In my mind, there is a dead-end and therefore
everything is stuck,” said Yishai, whose party holds what are considered the
swing votes on the matter in the security cabinet. “There are demands that
Israel cannot, in my mind, give in to, American demands that Israel cannot
Shas has made building in Jerusalem a central part of its
platform for years.
Yishai said that when Netanyahu and Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton met in New York on November 11, there were apparently
“unclear understandings.” As a result, he said, for two weeks, the sides have
been unable to put together a document.
The US embassy in Tel Aviv,
meanwhile, had no comment on the status of the long-awaited document.
another diplomatic matter, Netanyahu, during a meeting Monday with visiting
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, thanked the Italian government for its
help in finding a solution to the Ghajar issue. The security cabinet decided
last week to withdraw IDF soldiers from the northern part of the town, thereby
fulfilling Israel’s obligations under a 1978 UN Security Council resolution to
withdraw from Lebanon to the international boundary. That boundary cuts Ghajar
into two parts.
“The Italian foreign minister helped in the solution
regarding Ghajar,” Netanyahu said.
“We intend to withdraw from the
northern part of the town and establish a regime there that will not create a
vacuum which would allow Hizbullah to take control. We have still not completed
formulating that solution.”
The US and the UN, meanwhile, are looking for
a timetable for carrying out the security cabinet’s decision and withdrawing
Minister without a portfolio Yossi Peled, who has been
charged with coordinating implementation of the Ghajar withdrawal, reportedly
met and discussed the matter Monday in Jerusalem with Fred Hoff, George
Mitchell’s advisor on Lebanon and Syria.