Alexa

Israel considering options to promote peace

Israel considering options to promote peace

Israel is considering what it can do to enable a full-fledged Mideast peace process and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to take off, including instituting a temporary freeze on settlements, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday.
But after four hours of talks with U.S. special Mideast peace envoy, George Mitchell, Barak would not commit to a temporary settlement freeze.
Asked whether Israel would agree to a freeze of perhaps three to six months, Barak replied: "I think it's a little bit too early to predict."
The U.S. wants settlement construction to stop completely to help revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israel's insistence that "natural growth" be allowed in existing settlements to deal with births and marriages has been an irritant in its relations with President Barack Obama's administration.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said peace talks cannot resume until settlement construction in Palestinian territories comes to a complete halt.
"We are considering every positive contribution Israel can make towards the taking off of a significant, important peace effort," Barak told reporters after the meeting at a New York hotel.
He said it was important to look at "the wider picture and to deal with each and every issue including the settlements."
"We think this wider framework ... is needed in order to enable (a) full-fledged regional peace process and a promising Palestinian-Israeli track as well as other tracks taking off successfully in a positive way," Barak said.
He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet Mitchell in the next one, two or three weeks.
Netanyahu had planned to see Mitchell last week in Paris but called the meeting off in an apparent sign of growing friction over Obama's call for a halt to settlement construction.
Looking ahead to the Netanyahu-Mitchell meeting, Barak said, "I believe it will contribute to further moving forward of the prospects of a regional peace and Israeli-Palestinian peace led by the United States."
Mitchell appeared for a photo opportunity with Barak before the talks began but did not make any comments.
"I don't think we are stuck now," Barak said after the meeting.
He called his talks with the U.S. envoy "positive and in a good atmosphere, even though there are still differences."
They covered a wide range of issues including the strategic situation in the Middle East, prospects for a U.S.-led regional peace initiative "which we in Israel support fullheartedly," and potential negotiations with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, Barak said.


Updated : 2020-11-30 20:17 GMT+08:00