However, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told reporters Sunday that he sees no chance of peace. “In the 16 years since the Oslo Accords, we haven’t managed to bring peace to the region, and I’m willing to bet that there won’t be peace in another 16 years, either. Certainly not on the basis of the two-state solution,” Lieberman said.
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“There is a new language from President Obama, but we expect real pressure on Israelis,” Meshal said. “There are demands Israel stop the settlements but this is not the price we are after … although it’s an essential step.”
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Israeli officials rejected on Saturday a statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissing Israeli assertions that the Bush administration had agreed to allow some construction in the settlements to allow for natural growth.
“There is no memorialization of any informal and oral agreements. If they did occur, which, of course, people say they did, they did not become part of the official position of the United States government,” Clinton told reporters on Friday, in a news conference with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, at the State Department.
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The Obama administration is preparing a Middle East peace process that will include simultaneous bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel and Syria. The plan is based on the Arab peace initiative that offers establishing normal relations between Israel and Arab League states in exchange for withdrawing from the occupied territories and establishing a Palestinian state.
The United States will put together a “security package,” including demilitarization of the territories from which Israel will withdraw and the option of stationing a multinational force in them for years.
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“I don’t believe that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu would do that. I think he would be ill-advised to do that,” Biden told the U.S. network’s reporter Wolf Blitzer. “And so my level of concern is no different than it was a year ago.”
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In an unusually harsh criticism, an Israeli Minister on Monday said the Jewish state “does not take orders from Barack Obama” after the US President renewed support for the Annapolis agreement and the stalled roadmap plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan of the Likud party also praised hardliner Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who last week said that Israel was not bound by the 2007 Annapolis talks.
According to new information received by Amnesty International, the Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship which had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo of reportedly over 300 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 40 km north of Gaza by road. The German ship left the USA for Israel on 20 December, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza, carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons.
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The decision to visit Jerusalem several weeks after his first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington is meant to emphasize Obama’s commitment to an active role in achieving a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
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The public gloss on Fayyad’s departure, set for the end of this month, is that it would pave the way for a new Hamas-Fatah unity government. Talks between the rival Palestinian factions began in earnest on Tuesday in Cairo, and according to Palestinian officials involved in the talks, the Egyptians, at Washington’s behest, may be trying to reposition Fayyad for a comeback. It won’t be easy; Hamas had long made clear that it did not recognize Fayyad’s legitimacy as Prime Minister. Fayyad, a former Finance Minister, was appointed Prime Minister in 2007 of a West Bank-based emergency government by President Mahmoud Abbas, in a bid to outflank Hamas. The Islamists hold a majority in the Palestinian parliament, but many legislators were placed under Israeli arrest, preventing the legislature from sitting. But Hamas wasn’t Fayyad’s only problem.
For full article, visit http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1884103,00.html
Assad underlined the need for continued resistance, a reference to anti-Israeli militant groups like the Palestinian Hamas, which Damascus supports.
“Resistance is a national and patriotic and moral duty and it is the only option,” he said. “Peace cannot be achieved with an enemy who does not believe in peace without it being imposed on him by resistance.”
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