Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks during his Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his newly re-constituted cabinet for the first time on Tuesday, though his new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was absent at the start of the meeting because he was attending a changing-of-the guard ceremony at the Defense Ministry.
In a statement before the meeting, Netanyahu did not add any follow-up to his comments on Monday that Israel would be willing to hold peace talks based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The purpose of the meeting was to hear a budgetary update from the finance ministry before approving a two year budget.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, however, told reporters before the meeting that Israel is in the midst of a process that has continued for a number of years of “|warming ties, and strengthening connections – most of them secretly,” with the Arab and Muslim world. “I welcome this trend,” he said.
Steinitz pointed out that he recently met with Egypt's foreign minister, the first time Israeli and Egyptian ministers had met in a number of years, and also had a conversation at an international meeting in Washington with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was also a first in many years.
“The region is prepared and finally understands the importance of Israel as a stabilizing element, and we need to leverage that diplomatically,” he said.
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