Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Israeli FM Rules Out Any Halt to Settlement Expansion

Calls for Immediate Peace Talks, But Won’t Allow Any Concessions

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, May 10, 2011

Nine months in, the international community is increasingly wondering if the Israel-PA peace talks with ever restart. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an outspoken opponent of the talks to begin with, came forward with an offer of immediate talks.

Which sounds good on the surface, but in the same talks with foreign diplomats, Lieberman also ruled out making any concessions, including the only one the PA actually wants, a freeze in the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Not for three months, not for three days, not even for three hours,” Lieberman insisted. The PA has said it is willing to return to the talks the minute a new freeze is announced. The Israeli government ended its last freeze in September, which also ended the talks.

Israeli officials have repeatedly blamed the Palestinians for the halt to talks, and have recently cited the attempted reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas as the reason behind the lack of progress is restarting them. At the end of the day, however, the only thing that can restart those talks is a settlement freeze, and that is poltiically impossible for a far-right coalition in Israel which depends on pro-settler factions for support.
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