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Netanyahu protests EU talk of UN recognizing Palestinian state

Peace talks on hold as Palestinian reject Israeli offer

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Netanyahu protests EU talk of UN recognizing Palestinian state

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has protested remarks made by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner this week that the possibility is open for the UN Security Council to give recognition to a Palestinian state outside of a peace agreement with Israel.

During their meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu asked Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos for clarification on the matter, and also to relay to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians would only gain a state through direct negotiations with Israel.

Kouchner had suggested on Sunday that a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN, while not the preferred course, was still a possibility at some point. The Palestinians had raised the idea once again at the Arab League meeting in Libya on Friday, urging that the matter be taken up in the UN Security Council, even if it meant forcing the US to veto the measure.

Kouchner’s remarks came as he and Moratinos were winding up a difficult meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who un-diplomatically told them to first solve the problems of Europe before sticking their noses in the Middle East conflict.

Meantime, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “take steps” to preserve the fragile negotiations, which are currently stalled due to the PA demand for a complete and unconditional freeze on all building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected every Israeli offer of compromise so far, including a proposal by Netanyahu to freeze settlement building in exchange for the PA's recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

“This process will not succeed if the expectation is that the Palestinians make the demands, and Israel makes the concessions,” insisted Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. “It will only work if it is a two-way street where there is give and take, and flexibility is exercised on both sides.”

Settler leaders have urged the Israeli government to call the PA’s bluff by accelerating building instead of freezing it. “We call on the prime minister not just to stand behind the fact that the freeze has not been extended but to issue new tenders,” Efrat Local Council Chairman Oded Revivi said. “From the PA’s response we all understand that there is no partner for negotiations.”

“The Americans and the Palestinians have to know that it is terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah that are stumbling blocks to peace, and not the settlements,” agreed Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel.


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