Netanyahu, negotiators take off for peace talks in US

PM to meet with Obama, Abbas, Mubarak, Abdullah and Blair ahead of official relaunch of peace talks in Washington.

Netanyahu airport smarmy 311 GPO (photo credit: GPO)
Netanyahu airport smarmy 311 GPO
(photo credit: GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his negotiating team took off for Washington on Tuesday morning, ahead of the relaunch of peace talks with the Palestinians.
The prime minister will meet with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, before attending a dinner hosted by Obama with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordanian King Abdullah and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. He is expected to hold separate talks with each of the other leaders as well.
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On Thursday morning, Netanyahu and Abbas will launch the talks in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
This ceremony will be followed by the first working meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, and their respective teams.
The head of Israel’s negotiating team, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, flew to Washington on Monday for preparatory discussions. Netanyahu’s office said on Monday, in response to demands by women’s groups, that it would appoint at least one woman to the negotiating team.
While speaking to a meeting of the World Zionist Congress on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres expressed his faith in the prime minister to "be aware of the importance of the task that stands before him and the opportunity that exists."
On Monday, Netanyahu told Likud activists at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast in Tel Aviv that he would be cautious during the talks and insist on security guarantees, so an Israeli withdrawal would not be met by the firing of hundreds of rockets, as was the case when Israel left the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
“I am not naïve,” Netanyahu said.
Then, referring to the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt brokered by Likud prime minister Menachem Begin, he said, “I know that there are two sides. I want to give this time and resources. I hope to find a courageous partner as Begin found in [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat.”
Netanyahu pointedly did not mention the settlement housing-start moratorium that ends on September 26.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office said it would update the public on developments from Washington using the new social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The office recently launched a YouTube channel, including video clips in Hebrew and English on Netanyahu’s activities.