Israel-Palestine talks off: Lieberman

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iol newsp ic Avigdor Lieberman Israel AP Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the impasse in peace talks with the Palestinians was likely to continue. (AP Photo/Keystone,Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Jerusalem - Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday the impasse in peace talks with the Palestinians was likely to continue, two weeks after US-backed negotiations collapsed.

US Secretary of State John Kerry dragged the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table last July, ending a three-year hiatus in talks.

But those efforts derailed even before an April 29 deadline, with Palestinian and Israeli leaders exchanging recriminations and reneging on commitments made during nine months of fruitless talks.

“As of now, the impasse in negotiations with the Palestinians is expected to continue,” Lieberman told parliament's foreign and defence committee in remarks relayed by a spokesman.

He accused Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of having “no interest to reach a deal with Israel, no matter what Israel offers him,” noting past proposals of Israeli land concessions Abbas had turned down.

Abbas and Kerry are to meet in London on Thursday for the first time since the talks collapsed.

Both sides broke the terms of the July deal, with Israel stalling a release a last group of Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinians then seeking to adhere to 15 UN conventions.

Days later, Israel suspended its participation in the negotiations after Abbas unveiled plans to set up a Palestinian unity government with Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip and is committed to Israel's destruction.

Israel said it would introduce “a number of measures” in response to the moves, but took no significant action.

But Lieberman again warned Tuesday of Israeli retribution.

“Israel has yet to use the resources at its disposal to deal with the unilateral measures the Palestinians have taken,” he said.

The minister further said the Palestinians were hesitant to apply to more UN institutions, despite the probability they would be accepted, “due to the fear the Americans would stop giving them money.”

He reiterated the Israeli stance of no negotiations with the Palestinian unity government, “so long Hamas does not accept the Quartet conditions” of recognising Israel, rejecting violence and abiding by existing agreements.

Abbas says the new government he is set to head with Hamas backing would reject violence and recognise Israel and existing agreements, but that it is the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which he also heads, that conducts negotiations.


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