Senior Palestinian officials rejected Netanyahu’s appointment of a minister to handle peace negotiations, since they believe he calls the shots anyway.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Senior Palestinian officials dismissed on Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Minister of the Interior Silvan Shalom to deal specifically with diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), saying there was no point in negotiating with Israel because they believe Netanyahu is not truly interested in peace.
Israel’s Reshet Bet radio quoted unnamed PA officials as saying that Netanyahu, rather than Shalom, will call the shots and that the Israeli prime minister is not sincerely seeking a final diplomatic deal with the Palestinians. Therefore, they say, the appointment is meaningless.
Some Palestinian leaders added that they would refuse to meet with Shalom, outlining preconditions for any future negotiations, namely, acceptance of the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state, the freezing of any building in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons.
Some PA officials said they would judge Shalom in accordance with his actions, and if invited to a meeting, they would consider its ability to promote Palestinian interests.
Shalom is slated to meet with Member of Knesset (MK) Tzipi Livni, his predecessor. Speaking to IDF Radio, Livni said she hopes Shalom will succeed in his mission and that she would do all she could to help him, although she does not see any possibility of a breakthrough in the negotiations in the foreseeable future. “I hope he is successful, but I am very pessimistic,” she said.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told IDF Radio that he holds Shalom in great esteem. Even though Israel and the US have differences of opinion on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, “we must find ways to promote the necessary solution – two states for two nations,” he said.