Sunday, August 15, 2010

No is No! Inner Cabinet decides Israel will not accept Quartet's declaration on start of direct talks

(Ynet).For three hours on Sunday, the seven-minister forum discussed direct negotiations with the Palestinians ahead of the Mideast Quartet's announcement slated to be issued on the matter in the coming days.

Israel, it was decided, will not agree to preconditions laid down in the declaration. "The Quartet declaration will likely be a fig leaf for stipulating preconditions on the part of the Palestinians, and this is unacceptable to us," reported a senior official in Jerusalem.

The inner cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will apparently wait for a separate American declaration, which is expected a few days after the Quartet's announcement.

The American declaration will apparently not set any preconditions for the launching of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Senior officials in Jerusalem say the Quartet's declaration may be based on a previous statement issued in Moscow on March 19. The declaration, they estimate, will include three conditions Israel deems unacceptable: The extension of the construction moratorium in the West Bank's Jewish settlements, the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and limiting the negotiations to 1-2 years.

The officials believe such preconditions would enable Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to further delay the start of direct talks at least until the West Bank construction freeze expires on September 26.