Monday, November 23, 2009

National Security Council chairman: PA peace talks will be renewed within weeks

(Haaretz).A key aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Uzi Arad, said on Monday that he hoped stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations would be renewed within the coming weeks.

Arad, the National Security Council chairman, said Israel was not investing all of its efforts in relaunching peace talks with Syria because it did not wish to harm the chances of doing so with the Palestinians.

"Preoccupation with the subject of Syria is likely to be interpreted as an attempt to flee from the Palestinian issue, which is not the case," Arad told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

"The Israeli policy today is to restart the Palestinian process; Israel is making efforts, some of which are coordinated with the United States, in order to renew it."

Arad's comments came after President Shimon Peres said peace between Israel and the Palestinians was just a "step away," and urged the Netanyahu government to do everything necessary to ensure an end to the conflict during its tenure.

"Today, there is just one step left between us and the end of this conflict," said Peres. "The current government can and must do it. The painful solution of dividing the land, two states for two peoples, was something the [Israel's first prime minister] David Ben-Gurion took on himself, and today it is accepted by the majority of the nation.

The president spoke during a memorial ceremony marking 36 years since Ben Gurion's death, at Sde Boker in the Negev.