Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Peres: Israel Supports Two-State Solution, Iran Engagement

Curt Here...

After a couple of weeks of intense pressure from both the EU and the US to reignite the negotiations for peace in the Middle East it appears as if the new Israeli leadership has caved into the Western powers demands. According to Israeli President Shimon Peres Israel is on board with key elements of President Obama's agenda in the Middle East.

Peres said that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu "will cooperate (with) the commitments of the previous (Israeli) government. The previous government accepted the road map (to Middle East peace). In the road map, you'll find the attitude to the two-state solution."

Netanyahu went on to say that he was ready to "start to negotiate right away" and does not want to "govern the Palestinian people."

In return for Israel agreeing to return to the negotiation table the US will continue to engage Iran and try to deter their nuclear ambitions, but the US has made it clear that if Israel does not meet it's obligations towards a two state solution with the Palestinians the US will not help them with Iran.

With friend like these who needs enemies.

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Peres: Israel Supports Two-State Solution, Iran Engagement

Israel is on board with key elements of President Obama's agenda in the Middle East, Israeli President Shimon Peres told reporters Tuesday after meeting with Obama at the White House.

He said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would support a two-state solution to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and that if Obama wants to engage Iran, the Israelis are willing to back him.

"Mr. Netanyahu said he will cooperate (with) the commitments of the previous (Israeli) government. The previous government accepted the roadmap (to Middle East peace). In the roadmap, you'll find the attitude to the two-state solution," Peres said.

He said Netanyahu is ready to "start to negotiate right away" and does not want to "govern the Palestinian people."

The Tuesday sit-down was meant to lay the groundwork for a meeting later this month with Netanyahu which the U.S. president hopes will lead to a resumption of the Middle East peace process.

The White House released a statement Tuesday noting that Peres and Obama discussed issues "including the pursuit of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East and Iran's nuclear program" and saying Obama looks forward to the meeting with Netanyahu.

Peres, more moderate than Netanyahu, had been downplaying the new Israeli leader's previous refusal to endorse the "two-state solution" that has been the foundation of U.S. policy since early in the Bush administration.

The push for a two-state solution was also at the heart of a political flap Tuesday over the tone the administration was taking with its top ally in the Middle East.

Sources say the White House is considering offering Israel greater assistance in deterring Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for movement toward a Palestinian state. Israeli media reported that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel even privately told members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the Iran issue hinged on peace talks with Palestinians.

But officials later said Emanuel's comments were not meant to pressure the Israelis. Sources said he told AIPAC members that America's Arab allies, in particular Jordan, would find it easier to support tougher sanctions on Iran if there were progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Jordan's population contains more Palestinian refugees than native Jordanians.

"This administration does not believe that ... there's an either-or option here," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I think it's a pretty obvious point that while we can make progress on one it will help on the other. But we can do both simultaneously."

One official said the White House believes a two-state solution can minimize the influence of Hamas and Hezbollah in Gaza and Lebanon, in turn depriving Iran of influence in and around Israel.

Vice President Biden bluntly set the administration's terms in the road to Middle East peace, in a speech Tuesday to AIPAC.

Biden challenged Israel to back a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians and urged the Jewish state's new leadership to demonstrate its commitment to such a solution. Biden also said Netanyahu's government should stop constructing new Jewish settlements and ease restrictions on Palestinians.

"Israel has to work toward a two-state solution," Biden said. "You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement."

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai also were in Washington, in the run-up to a three-way meeting with Obama on Wednesday.

Zardari and Karzai will meet first Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before heading to the White House.


1 comment:

the70thweek said...

EU to decide on ties after Israel review-Solana

PRAGUE, May 6 (Reuters) - The European Union will decide what to do about a frozen upgrade in ties with Israel once Israel unveils its Palestinian strategy review, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Wednesday.

Solana said "not much has advanced" in a meeting with new Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Prague and the Israeli side was fully aware of the EU's position, which insists on a two-state solution.

"They are in the process of review," he told reporters. "They have to see how they can make something that is compatible with that."

Solana said the Israeli side said it would have clearer ideas on the Palestinian policy around the middle of May.

Lieberman was in Europe to try to allay concern about the new Israeli government's policy on peace with the Palestinians, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worried international mediators by refusing to embrace a vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Aides said the aim of the visit was to buy time until the month-old government formed a regional strategy.

While the world waits to see U.S. President Barack Obama's next steps on the conflict, the 27-nation European Union has linked an unfreezing of plans to upgrade ties with Israel to Netanyahu committing to negotiate a two-state accord.

This has drawn rebukes from Israel, where officials said the EU risked undermine its peacemaking clout. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom)