The international community has to stop "coddling" the Palestinians and tell them unequivocally that they need to return to the negotiating table, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a visiting US congressional delegation on Tuesday.
Netanyahu told the delegation, led by Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), that the refusal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to enter negotiations is bad for the PA, pushes peace further away, and only strengthens Hamas.
According to his assessment, the Palestinians are not used to such pressure from the international community, but that the message had to be delivered unequivocally from the world, and not only from the US Government officials said that there is currently very broad support among major players in the world for the need to return to the negotiating table.
"Everyone wants the current impasse to break, and no one sees a continuation of the current situation desirable," one senior official said, adding that Israel's expectation was that various countries - including leading players in the Arab world - would begin saying that to the Palestinians.
According to Israeli sources, the US is working hard to get key Arab players to support Abbas if and when he decides to return to talks.
This is widely believed to be one of the foci of discussions currently being held throughout the Arab world. For instance, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal visited Egypt Tuesday, following fast on the heels of a visit there a day earlier by Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II. Abbas was in Qatar on Tuesday.
Abdullah, meanwhile, went to Riyadh on Tuesday, just two days after Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal was in the Saudi capital discussing a possible reconciliation deal with the PA.
In other diplomatic developments, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski that all signs pointed to the Balkan region as the next target for the global jihad network to set up a base of operations. He said that intelligence information he has seen indicates the global jihad network wants to set up infrastructure and gain recruits in the Balkans, in regions populated by Bosnians and Albanians.
Lieberman said that it became clear to him from meetings with security and intelligence officials in South America, Africa and Europe that Iran and Hizbullah have infiltrated into South America, and al-Qaida into Africa.
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