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Terrorism & Security

Shimon Peres: Israel can aid US security by making peace with Palestinians

Israeli President Shimon Peres told Jewish leaders Thursday night that Israeli-Palestinian peace is critical to strengthening an anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East.

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Peres also said in his address that he was thankful for the Bush administration’s "attempt to expose them [Arab states] to democracy," but that he questions if that was possible, since it is very difficult to “come to a king” and tell him to go to elections. “Muslims should be able to choose their own path,” he said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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As peace talks stall over the persistent issue of settlements, some Palestinians are considering a diplomatic campaign to ask the United Nations Security Council for recognition of a Palestinian state, as the Monitor reported. But that will be a challenging move, since the US has veto power on the council.

An Israeli government source told the Jerusalem Post late Thursday that Israel will respond if the Palestinian Authority seeks statehood from the UN. “Israel is against unilateral steps. Israel believes that all problems should be solved around the negotiating table, but if the Palestinians choose unilateral steps, they can expect Israel to respond in kind.” The Post speculated that this could mean evacuating West Bank settlements and deploying soldiers there, though it noted that a settler source called that nonsense.

On the Bitter Lemons website, a platform for opinion writing among Israelis and Palestinians, Ghassan Khatib calls settlements the “make or break” issue of the peace process and says this Israeli government is “incompatible” with the process of peace.

Israel was a good listener when direct negotiations started in Washington, but it never engaged in presenting its views or making proposals. ... To truly engage in negotiations would either expose the position of the Israeli government as being too distant from the requirements of the international community, or endanger the coalition itself. This Israeli government cannot agree to any of the fundamental steps required to move the peace process forward. It is not mature enough to end the occupation in return for peace – the very heart of what this peace process is about.

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