No harmony with Quartet

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a cabinet meeting. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Contrary to expectations, the eight-member inner cabinet last night failed to reach agreement on endorsing the Quartet’s proposal for renewing peace talks with the
Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has expressed willingness to respond to the Quartet’s initiative for negotiations without preconditions, but he was unable to persuade his senior ministers in a marathon
cabinet session that lasted until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

The plan devised by the Quarter—the UN, EU, US, and Russia—was presented at the UN last Friday, the same day the Palestinian Authority submitted its application for statehood to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the initiative in the form of a three-stage plan.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority would renew direct talks within a month, then present their proposals on borders and security within three months, with the aim of reaching a final agreement by the end of 2012.

Netanyahu has expressed doubts in the PA’s sincerity regarding negotiations, stating this week that “the Palestinians want a state without peace.”

He noted in an interview with the American network PBS on Monday that, in the entire time he has been prime minister, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has met with him for a total of only six hours.

“You know, we have a century of conflict to resolve,” Netanyahu told interviewer Charlie Rose. “Six hours, that’s all you give?”

Netanyahu asserted that, by repeating their pre-condition of a settlement freeze, the Palestinians
were actually giving the message that they don’t want to negotiate and prefer to make a statehood bid at the UN rather than renewing a dialogue with Israel.