Sunday, January 10, 2010

Prize for consessions! Finance Minister: We don't need U.S. loan guarantees

(Haaretz).Israeli officials were up in arms Sunday after Washington's special envoy to the Mideast suggested the U.S. might impose sanctions on Israel and withhold loan guarantees to press it to make concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians, with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz saying that Israel was "doing just fine" without American loan guarantees.

"We don't need to use these guarantees," Israeli media quoted Steinitz as saying. "We are doing just fine. But several months ago we agreed with the American treasury on guarantees for 2010 and 2011, and there were no conditions."

The finance minister added that Israel was making every effort to advance peace talks with the Palestinians.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar also addressed Mitchell's remark, saying at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel will always act in accordance with its own needs, and not yield to external pressure. "The American administration knows that those who are holding up the negotiations are the Palestinians. Israel made many concessions while the Palestinians didn't do a thing."

Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said he didn't think that there was anyone in the Israeli government who really believed that the U.S. really intends to withhold guarantees. "Israel's economy is pretty strong, and the threat wouldn't be appropriate," he said.