Israel's Livni sees peace talks aiding Arab world alliance shift

JERUSALEM Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:48pm EDT

Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni arrives for talks with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni arrives for talks with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's top peace negotiator said on Friday newly resumed talks with the Palestinians also held a wider opportunity for Israel to seek alliances with Arab world moderates against militants in the Middle East.

The U.S.-brokered talks were renewed last month after a three-year stand off, the latest session on Wednesday coming amid a row over new plans by Israel to expand its enclaves in territory Palestinians want for a state.

The sides have provided little detail about the talks, hoping a lower profile may help them reach Washington's ambitious goal of reaching a deal for Palestinian statehood in nine months, despite wide gaps over key issues.

Livni, speaking after a meeting about the negotiations with visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, declined to say whether any progress had been made.

She said the talks have provided an opening "not only to relaunch negotiations but also to change the allies and alliances in the region."

"I believe there are parts in the Arab world that for them relaunching the negotiations can be an opportunity to support this and to work together against the extremists," she added, alluding to the turmoil in Egypt and Syria's civil war.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at a meeting with Ban on Thursday, the negotiations with Israel had thus far dealt with "all the final status issues" but that it was "too early to say whether we've accomplished anything or not."

The Arab League, Jordan and Egypt's military-led government that deposed Muslim Brotherhood rulers last month have welcomed the resumption of peace talks, also with backing from the Arab League whose 2002 peace initiative remains on the table for possible recognition of Israel after the dispute is resolved.

Israel has peace treaties with two Arab countries, Egypt, signed in 1979 and Jordan, in 1994 but remains technically at war with much of the Arab world since the conflict over Israel's founding in 1948.

BAN 'DEEPLY TROUBLED'

Ban said in his Ramallah talks with Abbas he was "deeply troubled by Israel's continuing settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

The U.N. chief was referring to plans for some 1,200 new housing units in the territory Israel captured in a 1967 war that Israel published ahead of this week's talks.

Ban praised Israel's release of 26 of the 104 prisoners promised under a deal that led to resuming peace talks, but expressed concern for 5,000 other Palestinians in Israeli jails, some of whom have been on intermittent hunger strikes.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he told Ban that Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon of violating a 2006 ceasefire with activity close to Israel's border, such as weapons depots in south Lebanese villages.

Israel was worried about conflict in neighboring countries, he said in a statement released by his office: "The Middle East is in the throes of a strategic earthquake and there will be instability in the region for a long time to come."

(Fixes capitalization of Ban Ki-moon)

(Additional reporting by Noah Browning in Ramallah; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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Comments (4)
act1 wrote:
I’m rooting for Israel, a plucky little nation fighting for its survival. But I fear if it continues its hard line stance on settlements in the disputed territories without some conciliation, the meetings will be fruitless. Israel is the only Middle East country that is truly prospering, due to its elective form of government and economic policies.
It does have its internal problems but handles them in democratic form.

Aug 16, 2013 10:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JHD2 wrote:
Settlements are a bogus issue. These are uninhabited lands; it is not like people are being displaced. The 67 borders are irrelevant; that was 50 years ago, almost three generations. The arabs lost a war that they started and to the victor goes the spoils. Should the US give Texas and California back to Mexico or Manhattan back to the indians? Every border in the world was established by war. The so called Palestinians should give up on the absurd demand that East Jerusalem be the capital of their state; Israel would be stupid to allow these terrorists to base their operations in their capital.

The so called religious sites have no status in these matters. The arabs cannot be taken seriously as long as they are governed by 7th century superstitions and myths and led by islamist religious leaders. Hopefully the Iraq democracy will survive and Egypt will return to democracy without the brotherhood and lead the arab world into the 21st century with secular governments that allow freedom to practice whatever religion they choose.

The world is pretty sick and tired islam’s perpetual war with itself and and with nonbelievers. If it wasn’t for their oil and Israel’s security who would care.

Aug 16, 2013 11:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Life1 wrote:
@JHD2: spoken like a true 12 year old that just repeats everything he’s spoon fed by the smarter ‘adults’ around him… Especially, adding in the tags of ‘so-called’ and ‘terrorists’ to the Palestinians… Very mature and really shows off your independent thinking skills.

Even funnier perhaps is your reference to international law as ‘bogus’. Those settlements are illegal, however many ways you and your ilk tries to spin it. Half 80% of Canada is uninhabited as well… How do you reckon Ottawa would feel if Americans started building camps guarded by the US military on Canadian soil?

And buddy, the 6-day war in 1967 was started by Israel bombing Egypt. The Arabs didn’t lose a war ‘they started’; at least get your facts straight… Nevermind the Israeli flag still has a big star of David right in the middle, which doesn’t exactly bode very well for its ‘secular’ future.

Aug 16, 2013 12:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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