Secretary of State John Kerry is wrapping up a trip to the Middle East in which he unveiled an initiative, designed to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, under which Palestinian areas would be given a $4 billion economic boost. The Palestinian reaction was less than enthusiastic. An economic advisor for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas categorically rejected any link between political progress and economic assistance, while more generally insisting that the political climate was not conducive for Kerry’s proposal:
The current political climate is not appropriate for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s plans to revive the Palestinian economy, a senior economic adviser to President Abbas said Tuesday. While Palestinians welcome the initiative by Kerry to boost Palestine’s ailing economy, Mohammad Mustafa says the political climate won’t allow such an initiative.
Speaking today at a press briefing hosted by The Israel Project, Israeli cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz emphasized that – in contrast – the Israeli government welcomes a new peace initiative. He bluntly stated that Jerusalem’s position was “two states for two peoples” and acknowledged that “painful concessions” would have to be made by the Jewish state:
“The government’s position is very clear, and I support it: We do support [a] two states for two peoples solution,” Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told The Times of Israel. “We are ready to make painful concessions on two conditions: that there will be peace and security… it’s the government’s positions, and especially the prime minister’s positions, that matter. And Prime Minister Netanyahu made it very clear — and I think most of us support his position — but he made it very clear that this government is in favor of two states for two people solution, [under] two conditions: that it will be real peace and real security.”
Steinitz’s statement echoed a recent speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres, in which Peres called for the resumption of peace talks. A poll released this week showed that an overwhelming majority of Israelis also endorse the broad contours of a comprehensive peace deal and support Israeli leaders in pursuing one. That poll, in turn, was in line with previous ones.
[Photo: The Israel Project / Flickr]