According to both Israeli officials and Western diplomats, U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has recognized the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot announce a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem. The officials said the U.S. will not endorse new construction there, but would not demand Jerusalem publicly announce a freeze.
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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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Leon (Lunia) Gayer, 33, and English teacher, has been living in Brooklyn for 16 years. “We had an aunt who joined one of the first waves of immigration to Israel. Grandma used to correspond with her in Yiddish. I began studying Hebrew when I was still in Odessa, but we decided to come to New York because they said that in Israel you must serve in the army and the Russian experience with the military has not been too great. One relative told us we were crazy even to consider Israel, where he said they live in mud huts …. Here I remained quite Russian, because in America there is no pressure to give up your previous culture and identity. Because of this approach, the link to tradition comes from a more correct place, without pressure and coercion.”
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“The question is, should the Palestinians have a place to call their own?” he asked. “Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic.”
However, Huckabee backed away from a suggestion he made in 2007 that the Palestinian state could be formed in Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
“It wasn’t so much of a plan, I think, as it was a speculation,” he said. “I was speculating. My question was, why does it [the Palestinian state] have to be here?”
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The official said Netanyahu told U.S. envoy George Mitchell this week what he planned to say in the speech and that it was “not adequate” to satisfy Washington, who is pushing for an immediate resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood.
The official was quoted on Friday by participants at a meeting this week of the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators. Netanyahu’s refusal to declare a building freeze in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to endorse the goal of establishing a Palestinian state — both set out in a 2003 peace “road map” — has opened a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.
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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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Israel’s prime minister has refused to commit to an independent Palestinian state during talks with Barack Obama, the US president, at the White House.
Binyamin Netanyahu told Obama that he wanted the Palestinians to govern themselves, but steered clear of explicitly endorsing the two-state solution set out in the so-called “road map”.
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Because of the F-35’s structure, which places missiles, bombs and electronic devices inside the plane, no system can be installed externally and considerable internal modifications would be required.
These modifications push up the aircraft’s price by at least 25 percent. In 2002, Lockheed Martin cited the cost of one F-35 at some $47 million, but now the official price is about $80 million, in part reflecting the dollar’s devaluation. The modifications Israel is demanding raise the price tag to over $100 million.
One Pentagon estimate quoted the cost of 75 F-35s in addition to spare parts, engines and a comprehensive support system at $15 billion. Senior defense establishment officials say such prices are prohibitive.
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