Netanyahu to cabinet: We must learn lessons from past

PM debriefs ministers on direct talks meetings in Washington; says "creative thinking" is key for progress in peace talks with Palestinians.

Netanyahu cabinet meeting 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Netanyahu cabinet meeting 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Creative thinking and original solutions are key to the success of the peace process and the progress of the direct talks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Debriefing his ministers on his trip to Washington for the launch of the direct talks, the prime minister said that the resolution of the complex issues at hand would require Israel to learn lessons from the decisions made in the past, and to think "outside the box."
The prime minister praised fellow Washington attendees Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II for their involvement in the process so far, saying that he feels there are other Arab nations now willing to participate in working towards peace in the region as a whole.
"Even if there are important countries in the Arab world that have yet to line up behind the peace process," he said, "this is the time to try and complete a peace settlement between us and the Palestinians and to expand it into a broader cycle of peace."
Netanyahu told the cabinet that he had held a "long, private meeting" with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and that he hoped the conversation in Washington was the beginning of a "direct, continuous and reliable link."
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Addressing the issue of the settlement freeze due to expire on September 26, Netanyahu reiterated that no decisions had been made. The Palestinians have made clear that a failure to extend the moratorium would result in a collapse of negotiations.
Last Sunday, the prime minister declared that Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor's comments regarding building in the settlements were strictly Meridor's opinion only, and did not represent the government's official position on the issue.
Meridor had said that regular construction should continue only in the settlement blocks that are likely to be annexed to Israel as part of any future agreement with the Palestinians, while building in other settlements should be restricted to "natural growth."
Initial reactions from Thursday's Washington launch were positive as Palestinian sources reported a "180 degree" shift in attitude with the delegation feeling more optimistic, reportedly due to the US pressure on Israel to extend the construction moratorium, and  the hope that negotiations will conclude within a year.
On Friday, President Shimon Peres  also said newly launched peace talks with the Palestinians had a “promising start,” speaking to reporters at an economic conference in Italy.
Peres stated that the negotiations  had a “surprisingly” good beginning, considering the fact that “skepticism prevailed before.”