PM seeking ‘ironclad’ security arrangements

Officials refuse to comment on report saying Netanyahu demanding IDF presence on Palestinian side of security barrier.

By
December 15, 2010 05:52
4 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks in Tirat Carmel, Sunday

Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Israeli officials refused to comment Tuesday on a Newsweek report claiming that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was demanding an Israeli security presence not only on the Jordan River as part of a future peace accord, but also on the Palestinian side of the security barrier.

According to the report, Netanyahu insisted during three rounds of direct talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in September that the Palestinians needed to accept Israel’s security concept before discussing issues such as borders.

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Lieberman, referring to increasing calls by the international community to open Gaza to the free flow of goods and people, said that “if the international community will stop the smuggling, we don’t have any reason for any restrictions.”

Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments surrounding the Middle East peace process in light of Washington’s admission that it had failed to persuade Israel to extend a moratorium on settlement construction.

On the eve of the meeting, PA President Abbas met in Ramallah with US special envoy George Mitchell and reiterated his opposition to resume peace talks with Israel unless construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem was halted.

Abbas also demanded that when and if the negotiations were resumed, they would focus on the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, a PA official said.

Prior to the Arab League meeting, Abbas will brief Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the results of his talks with Mitchell, the official added, denying that the Americans had given the Palestinians any assurances regarding the peace talks.

“We’re disappointed with the US administration,” the PA official said. “We made it clear to the Americans that peace talks can’t take place while Israel continues to build in the settlements and create new facts on the ground.”

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said after the meeting with Mitchell that the US administration presented the Palestinians with ideas, although he refused to elaborate.

Erekat said that the Palestinians had reaffirmed their demand for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and that east Jerusalem was “occupied like the rest of the Palestinian territories.”

In indirect criticism of the US administration, Erekat said, “Those who talk about reaching a comprehensive peace on the basis of a two-state solution must commit the Israeli government to halt settlement activities and its unilateral measures in Jerusalem, including house demolitions, the deportation of residents and creating new facts on the ground.”

The PLO official held Israel fully responsible for the current impasse in the peace process because it had chosen settlements over peace.

Mitchell said after the meeting with Abbas that Washington was determined to see a Palestinian state.

“There are still many difficulties and obstacles in the way, but we are determined to persevere in our efforts to see an independent and viable Palestinian state,” he said.


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