Diplomacy

Lieberman: Israel and Arab States “Closer to an Agreement Than Ever Before”

Israel’s defense minister said that Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world are “closer to an agreement than ever before” in an interview broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday.

Avigdor Lieberman said that hopes for regional peace were bolstered “because Trump has arrived on the scene and because … the Arab countries have internalised that their problem is not Israel. Israel can be a solution to the problem.”

Lieberman stressed that if a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were to include “the opening of embassies, trade relations and direct flights” with the rest of the Arab world, “I believe that it will get an overwhelming majority in the Knesset and among the people.”

Lieberman did not elaborate on what such a scenario depended on, instead saying he would “leave that for the next interview.”

In related news, Mohammad Mustafa, a senior economic adviser to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told Bloomberg that Abbas would temporarily shelve his demand for a freeze in Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank in order to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Mustafa also suggested Abbas would ease the diplomatic and legal campaign against Israel in international bodies such as the UN.

Mustafa said: “We have not made the settlements an upfront issue this time. We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new administration a chance to deliver.”

In previous talks led by then US Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas demanded that Israel either release prisoners, freeze settlements or agree to negotiate the border based on the pre-1967 lines in order to restart peace negotiations. Following the breakdown of talks Abbas demanded all three of these conditions in order to restart negotiations.

Brigadier-General (res.) Michael Herzog told a recent BICOM podcast that “the Palestinians are going out of their way to prove to the U.S. and the international community that they are a willing partner in the peace process, and in their mind agreeing to a meeting without conditions can make that point.”

(via BICOM)

[Photo: BICOM]