Lieberman says Israel to make no more gesture to Palestinians

17:54, December 18, 2009      

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday evening that Israel is willing to talk with the Palestinians only without any preconditions, stressing that his country will not make any further gesture.

"There will be no more overtures, and we will not make another gesture or quarter gesture. Enough with the theatrics and the mediators," local daily Haaretz quoted Lieberman as saying.

"We are prepared for direct negotiations without any conditions or gestures. The ball is in the Palestinians' court," the hard-line minister told a meeting in the West Bank settlement town of Ariel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month that a 10-month partial moratorium on new housing starts in the West Bank settlements, saying the move was in a bid to revive the peace talks with the Palestinians.

Since then, Israel has been urging the Palestinians to make reciprocal steps. While the Palestinian side have refused to engage in peace talks until Israel freezes all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as capital of their future state.

Lieberman said on Thursday that the 10-month moratorium was only a tactical and temporary move, echoing what Netanyahu said early this month. "It is clear to everyone that in 10 months, we will be building again full force," he said.

Also on Thursday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the Security Council that Netanyahu's recent decision of constraint on settlement construction was not enough and urged Israel to fully implement its obligations.

While Netanyahu's 10-month suspension of certain settlement activity is a step beyond previous government positions, by excluding East Jerusalem and other terms it falls considerably short of commitments under the so-called Two-State Roadmap plan to freeze all settlement activity including "natural growth" and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001, Serry said.

Source: Xinhua
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