Israel reaffirms readiness to start talks with Palestinians

09:36, March 04, 2010      

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 3, 2010. Arab League ministers on Wednesday backed a U.S. call for indirect Palestinian-Israeli talks, giving a boost to Washington's efforts to revive the moribund peace process. Netanyahu, who has called for direct talks but has not ruled out indirect negotiations as a first step, said after the Arab League move that conditions were improving for the start of so-called "proximity talks". (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Israel hopes that the Arab League's backing for indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks will help relaunch the peace process, said an Israeli government spokesman on Wednesday.

"Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has been calling for Israeli-Palestinian talks for months, and we hope now the process will start," Mark Regev, the prime minister's foreign press advisor, told Xinhua.

During a special session in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, Netanyahu reportedly said that the conditions are ripening for the restart of negotiations between the two sides.

On Wednesday, Arab foreign ministers decided after their two- day meeting in Cairo to back indirect talk between Israel and the Palestinians for a duration of four months.

This decision is based on a U.S. proposal for the resumption of talks, said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat attend a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 3, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have bogged down since December 2008, when the Jewish state launched a massive offensive against the Gaza Strip.

In an attempt to revive the peace talks, Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on construction in the West Bank settlements last November. However, the prime minister stressed that the construction limits would not be implemented in East Jerusalem, which has been seen for years as prospective capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he rejects renewal of peace talks unless Israel completely stops settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.

Source: Xinhua
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