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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The entire Middle East is watching to see how the international community deals with the Iranian threat, opposition leader Tzipi Livni told visiting US National Security Adviser Jim Jones on Thursday, saying that even as the world engages Teheran, stronger sanctions need to be prepared for the day after.
"Even in a period of dialogue, the international community should prepare harsher and more effective sanctions so Iran understands what is on the horizon," she said.
"We live in a world of perceptions and appearances, and Iran is not North Korea," Livni told Jones. "In such a world the international community, led by the United States, must be clear about Iran and whether it would stop a nuclear Iran or come to terms with it. The world needs to be clearer on this matter."
Jones met with Livni a day after he and his staff met separately with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General-Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi and discussed a host of regional, bilateral and strategic issues.
On the Palestinian issue, Livni - according to her office - told Jones that in addition to the two-states vision, there was a need for a comprehensive arrangement that would be "detailed and clear" to determine the conditions for an end to the conflict and how to implement the agreements.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-backed pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat quoted diplomatic sources on Thursday as saying that the Gulf States and Arab countries were "annoyed" at US insistence that they make certain gestures to Israel as part of an American attempt to launch the diplomatic process.
US Mideast envoy George Mitchell is trying to get the Arab states to make normalization gestures toward Israel, even as he works to come to an agreement with Israel on some kind of settlement freeze.
According to the paper, Mitchell told his interlocutors in Arab capitals that these steps were meant to help President Barack Obama in his confrontation with the Netanyahu government, and that if the Arab states wanted to benefit from the diplomatic moment "they should not stand with folded arms."
The paper quote a high ranking Arab official as saying the Arab world "will not reject the US request."
Senior Israeli officials said this week that they expected to hear a positive response within a month.
In a related development, The Washington Post editorialized on Thursday that Obama had erred in insisting on an "absolutist demand for a settlement 'freeze'" from Israel.
As a result, the paper wrote, "Palestinian and Arab leaders who had accepted previous compromises immediately hardened their positions; they also balked at delivering the "confidence-building" concessions to Israel that the administration seeks. Israeli public opinion, which normally leans against the settler movement, has rallied behind Mr. Netanyahu. And Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which were active during the Bush administration's final year, have yet to resume."
"If he is to be effective in brokering a peace deal," the paper concluded, "Mr. Obama will need to show both sides that they can trust him - and he must be tough on more than one country."