'FM meets Moroccan counterpart in NY'

FM meets Moroccan count

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman apparently met in New York on Thursday with his Moroccan counterpart, although his office would neither confirm nor deny the report. The meeting would be Lieberman's first with an Arab counterpart since taking office, and would perhaps signal the beginning of a thaw of sorts with certain countries in the Arab world. This meeting came amid reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with representatives from Qatar and Bahrain. These reports were not confirmed, either. Morocco, Bahrain and Qatar are believed to be the leading candidates among the Arab countries to make some kind of gesture toward Israel as part of a package - which would include an Israeli settlement moratorium - that would enable the formal restarting of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Two days after US President Barack Obama called on his Middle East envoy George Mitchell to renew intensive negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian teams, he met in New York Thursday morning with Defense Minister Ehud Barak to move the process forward. Mitchell had met a day earlier with Netanyahu's envoy to the Palestinians, Yitzhak Molcho. Barak also met in New York with Quartet envoy Tony Blair before a meeting of the representatives of the Quartet - the US, the EU, Russia and the UN - later in the day. Those talks, according to an official in Barak's office, focused on economic development in the West Bank. Meanwhile, officials in the Prime Minister's Office denied reports that there was tension between the US and Israel over the recent approval of some 450 new housing units in the West Bank. On the contrary, The Jerusalem Post has learned that over the last few months, cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington has gotten significantly tighter. For instance, while Israel had very little idea of what Obama was going to say in his Cairo address in June, this time it was well apprised of what he was going to say, both at the start of the tripartite meeting on Tuesday and during the part of his address to the UN that dealt with the Middle East.