Netanyahu Calls For Direct Talks
Wednesday June 23, 2010 09:33 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to start direct peace talks with Israel without any delays. Yet, he did not offer any changes on this stances, especially regarding Jerusalem and settlement construction.
Israeli Prime Minister - Benjamin Netanyahu
But the Jordanian News Agency, Petra, reported that Abbas rejected the call of Netanyahu as it does not include any real change in Israel’s policies.
Netanyahu claimed his government conducted several measures to build trust, such as removing some roadblocks in the occupied West Bank and imposing a settlement freeze.
Yet, the claimed freeze does not include Jerusalem while hundreds of roadblocks are still in place across the West Bank.
He said that “Israel also took other steps”, and that the Palestinians are still refusing to meet and hold talks, and further stated that the Palestinians are also trying to prevent Israel from becoming a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
On his part, the Palestinian President stated during a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan that Israel must fully lift the siege on Gaza, and denounced Israel’s decision to deport Palestinian legislators from Jerusalem.
He also slammed Israel for its plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
Spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Ghassan Khatib, stated that the Palestinian legitimate demands are clear; Israel must fully cease settlement activities before direct talks can be resumed.
Although Israel announced a settlement freeze, slated to end in September, the Israeli government said that construction and expansions in East Jerusalem are not included in the freeze.
Netanyahu will be heading to Washington for talks with President Obama. The United States is demanding Israel to halt the construction of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem but Israel recently approved the construction of 1600 homes for Jewish settlers there.
The announcement was made in March while U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, was visiting the region in an attempt to boost the chances of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The decision was also denounced by U.S. Secretary Of State, Hilary Clinton, who expressed disappointment and dismay over the Israeli decision.
This is besides 2500 homes that are already under construction as Israel refuses halt any talks over Jerusalem and considers settlement construction in the occupied city as a natural issue to provide housing for Jewish settlers.