World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel's coalition government presented a divided front on Palestinian statehood on Tuesday as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepared a new mission to revive long-defunct peace talks.
Appearing before a parliamentary committee, Israeli chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni outlined a vision she said she shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"My policy and that of the prime minister is that a solution of two states for two peoples must be achieved," said Livni.
Far-right members of the government were having none of it, in a rare public clash of ideologies between political allies in Netanyahu's administration since it took office in March.
"Two states for two peoples might be Netanyahu's position, but it is not the official government position. It is not part of its basic guidelines," Orit Struck of the Bayit Yehudi party said at the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee session.
The party's leader, Naftali Bennett, repeatedly voiced his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Instead, the former Jewish settlement leader said, Israel should annex much of the West Bank.
Bennett took his party into Netanyahu's government and has not publicly raised objections to restarting peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement building - suggesting he did not have to because they stood no chance of success.
Netanyahu has voiced support for establishing a Palestinian state next to Israel under a future peace deal, but has said there can be no Israeli return to pre-1967 war lines.
In addition, he has demanded that Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a condition they fear would mean waiving any right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, a main issue of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Kerry was due to arrive in Israel on Thursday, on his fourth visit as secretary of state, for further talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on getting negotiations under way.
Speaking to a U.N. committee in New York on Monday, the top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said: "Make no mistake, we are exerting every possible effort in order to see that Mr. Kerry succeeds."
Kerry telephoned Netanyahu last week to voice U.S. concern at Israel's plan to declare legal four unauthorised West Bank settler outposts, a U.S. official said in Muscat on Tuesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave no details about the call, triggered by a court document in which Israel said it had taken steps to retroactively authorize the four outposts built without official permission.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal.
The main issues that would have to be resolved in a peace agreement include the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state, the future of Jewish settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.Last Mod: 22 Mayıs 2013, 09:34