Israel defiant despite US sanction warning over peace talks

Israel still remains defiant after an implicit warning by a top US official to apply financial pressure in order to start peace talks with Palestinians.

Israel defiant despite US sanction warning over peace talks

Israel on Sunday still remains defiant after an implicit warning by a top US official to apply financial pressure in order to start peace talks with Palestinians.

Washington has so far failed to revive the stalled peace process, a key component in the Obama administration's foreign policy.

President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell said in an interview with PBS television earlier in the week that under US law, Washington "can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel", noting that the previous Bush administration had done so in the past.

"We think that the negotiation should last no more than two years," Mitchell said in the interview." "We hope the parties agree. Personally I think it can be done in a shorter period of time."

But Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday that "we have no indication that there is any intention to pressure us through the guarantees... only a few months ago we reached an agreement with the US treasury and state departments on the extension of their guarantees."

The United States offered Israel 10 billion dollars in loan guarantees in the early 1990s. In 1991, former US President George Bush temporarily suspended the approval of the guarantees by Congress in order to pressure Israel to take part in an international peace conference.

Loan guarantees are not cash grants, but allow Israel to take loans from international bodies with better conditions and lower interest rates.

The United Nations independent expert on Palestinian rights also had called for economic sanctions against Israel.

Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel," Richard Falk said.

However, on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement in response to Mitchell's remarks, blaming the Palestinians for the failure to resume negotiations.

Everyone realizes that the Palestinian Authority refuses to renew peace talks, while Israel took "significant" steps to advance the process, the statement said.

Nabil Abu Rdeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, rejected Netanyahu's accusations Palestinians were to blame for a lack of progress toward a statehood deal.

"Israel continues settlement building in violation of the road map," Abu Rdainah said.

Palestinians say will start peace talks if Israel stops the settlement expansion on their occupied homeland.

First, US called for settlement "freeze", but after Israel refusal, Obama administraion retreated its policy, mentioning only "restraint" in the occupied West Bank.

The roadmap calls on Israel to remove all outpost settlements erected after 2001 and to stop settlement expansion, but thus far Israel has not heeded US and international demands for a complete settlement freeze. The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law.

Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier "state".



Agencies

Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2010, 17:16
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