‘Israel is Isolated Though Its Radical Position’
Moscow should maintain contact with Hamas, especially now that the group has adopted a more realistic approach to the peace process in the Middle East.
That’s according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking after negotiations with the group’s leader Khaled Meshaal. The meeting came during the latest stage of Lavrov’s Middle East tour. (4:50):
“Everybody is asking Israel to give in on key issues. First of all – to accept the two-state solution and to stop the settlements. These are two major items on the table of negotiations. There is no deal that could pass, especially one that tried to find a solution for the nuclear issue in Iran, which is an existential threat to Israel. For the first time Hamas agreed, and even Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed on this two-state solution,” said Professor Sami Nader from St. Joseph University in Beirut.
Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday to continue the construction of homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, less than a week after the U.S. president called on the right-wing Israeli leader to halt settlement expansion.
Mr Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting that while he does not intend to build any new settlements in the West Bank, he would not curtail construction to meet the needs of “natural growth” in existing communities, a senior Israeli official quoted him as saying.
By natural growth, Israel means the increase of population as a result of factors such as increased birth rates. >>>
“I have no intention to construct new settlements,” Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted by officials as telling his cabinet on Sunday.
“… but it makes no sense to ask us not to answer to the needs of natural growth and to stop all construction,” he added.
Barack Obama, the US president, pressed Netanyahu to halt all settlement activity when the two men met in Washington last week.
About 500,000 Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.
Netanyahu also told the cabinet that the government would move settlers living in the outposts it considers to be illegal under Israeli law.
“We will take care of them,” he said. “If possible by dialogue. There is no doubt that we have committed ourselves to deal with them.”
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, ministers also approved a draft law banning commemoration of the Naqba, or “catastrophe” as it is referred to by Arabs, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948.
The draft law is scheduled to be submitted for parliamentary approval next week and will propose punishment of up to three years in prison, an official told the AFP news agency.
The law was brought forward at the instigation of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister.
Yisrael Beitenu, Israel’s third biggest party with 15 of the 120 seats in parliament, targeted Israel’s Arab minority during this year’s election campaign, adopting the slogan “No Citizenship Without Loyalty.”
About 1.2 million Palestinians live inside Israel.
They are descended from 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land after the establishment of Israel in 1948. >>>
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