Netanyahu leaning 311.
(photo credit: Emile Salman)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met late Thursday evening with Quartet envoy
Tony Blair in advance of the Quartet’s high-level meeting in Munich Saturday, to
discuss a package of Israeli steps aimed at encouraging the Palestinian
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This was Netanyahu’s third meeting with Blair in as many weeks,
and was expected to deal with various economic projects.
during a speech in the Knesset on Wednesday, said that “in the next few days, I
plan to take additional steps to further encourage development and prosperity
among the Palestinians.”
He did not elaborate.
officials have said in recent days that the package being developed is not an
effort to deflect expected criticism from the Quartet over the stymied
diplomatic process, but an extension of Netanyahu’s policy of enhancing
Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation.
In his Knesset speech,
Netanyahu said, “We have gone to great lengths to help the Palestinian economy,
not as an alternative to the political peace that we want to negotiate with
them, but as a contribution to stability and to help the Palestinian population
understand that there is a lot to be gained from peace.”
In that speech,
Netanyahu also had another message that was clearly intended for the Quartet and
the international community, this one regarding the turmoil in Egypt.
expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace,” he said.
we expect the international community to expect any government of Egypt to honor
the peace. This must be clear, along with the discussions about reform and
The Quartet meeting will be held Saturday on the sidelines of
the threeday Munich Conference on Security Policy, a high-level conference that
brings together senior officials from around the world to discuss security
challenges. The current volatility in Egypt and the Middle East will certainly
be a main topic of discussion.
This will be the highestlevel Quartet
meeting since September, on the eve of the expiration of the 10-month settlement
freeze. In the statement issued after that meeting, the Quartet called on Israel
to renew the freeze.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign
policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN
Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon are expected to attend Saturday’s meeting, along
In a related matter, Reuters reported Thursday that the EU
had agreed to waive a visa ban on new Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
to attend the Munich security parley.
Salehi, an MIT-trained nuclear
physicist who has been intimately involved with Iran’s nuclear program for years
and is a close confidant of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is considered
a hawk on the nuclear issue. It is not clear, however, if he will actually
attend the meeting.
Salehi is on a list of Iranians barred from entering
Sources in Jerusalem expressed regret at the move, saying this
was an opportunity for the EU to send a strong message that it stood by the
integrity of its own sanctions regime.