'No surprise if whole world recognizes Palestinian state'

In response to S. American countries' announcements, Ben-Eliezer says "even US may join list," says peace talks are in Israel, ME interests.

ben eliezer writing 311 (photo credit: Eli Neeman)
ben eliezer writing 311
(photo credit: Eli Neeman)
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Sunday "I would not be surprised if within a year the whole world will support a Palestinian state, including the United States. Then we will ask where we were and what we did." His comments came in response to a number of South American countries recognizing a Palestinian state.
Speaking before the weekly cabinet meeting, Ben-Eliezer stressed that "starting peace negotiations is in the interest of Israel and the Middle East."
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"We must do everything to reach a dialogue with the Palestinians, even if the price is a [construction] freeze for several months," Ben-Eliezer said.
"I hope that Hamas stops the rocket fire from Gaza, we have no interest in escalation," he went on to say. "We have no choice but to respond."
Ben-Eliezer warned that "if they think they will continue to disturb the lives of families and continue to carry out kidnappings, we will not allow it."
"However, I repeat - we have no interest in an escalation," Ben-Eliezer added.
Ben-Elizer's comments came as tensions along the border with the Gaza Strip intensified. Overnight Saturday IDF troops, with the help of a helicopter gunship, fired on insurgents who detonated an explosive device against a passing Israeli patrol near the border in the southern Gaza Strip.
Two Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed during the attack.