BiBi Tells U.S. Israel Will Never Stop Building in East Jerusalem
April 22, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Days before George Mitchell, the US special envoy to the Middle East is scheduled to visit Israel to attempt to restart peace talks between the Palestinians, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu informed the United States that he has no intention of stopping Jewish settlement expansions in East Jerusalem. Relations between Israel and the U.S. have soured, since President Obama has insisted building in East Jerusalem come to a halt, as a gesture of goodwill, to resume talks with Palestinian leadership. But BiBi’s message is loud and clear: The building will continue no matter what.
“The Palestinian demand is that we prevent Jews from building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. That is an unacceptable demand,” said Netanyahu to ABC News.
Instead of the halting of Jewish settlements in the disputed region of East Jerusalem, BiBi proposes instead, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, lifting checkpoints on the occupied West Bank and an easing of Israeli’s economic blockade against Gaza.
Whether these concessions would compel the Palestinians to enter into peace talks is anyone’s guess. But Palestinian leaders have long insisted on a full halt to settlement construction, before they would enter into talks with Israel.
Despite the difficulties, the U.S. and Israel recognize the importance of maintaining their special relationship. But Jim Jones, U.S. national security adviser, also pointed out the importance of peace-talks between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent Iran’s nuclear development. “Advancing this peace would … help prevent Iran from cynically shifting attention away from its failures to meet its obligations,” he said.
George Mitchell is scheduled to meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders later this week.
Source: the Guardian