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Netanyahu says peace talks with Palestinians may resume soon

JERUSALEM (WJC)–Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed cautious optimism that peace talks with the Palestinians could soon resume. “In recent weeks, I have had the impression there is a certain change in atmosphere. I hope that a maturation that would enable the negotiating process to move forward has occurred…We are serious in our intention to reach a peace agreement, but we will insist that the outcome of the negotiations be determined at the negotiating table. Israel is ready for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions, Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud faction in the Knesset, according to the newspaper ‘Haaretz’.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu was particularly encouraged by the latest meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. However, in an interview after that meeting, Abbas reiterated that his view on the need for a complete Israeli settlement freeze had not changed.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed pessimism about the possibility of talks with the Palestinians achieving results in the near future even if they do resume. “It will not be possible to reach a complete agreement in two years,” Lieberman warned Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Monday. “It is not a realistic target. We must begin direct talks without committing to any deadline. In the past, we have set deadlines that were not kept and it led to violence.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper ‘Maariv’ writes that Washington is pushing a plan to restart peace talks that foresees reaching a final deal in two years and agreeing on permanent borders in nine months. Under the plan, Israelis and Palestinians will immediately start final status talks that were suspended during the Gaza war a year ago.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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