Report: Heated Israeli cabinet debate over return to peace talks


Haaretz this morning reports that a fierce debate took place between senior cabinet members last week over the possibility of returning to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Citing three unnamed ministers in attendance, the report says that there was disagreement within the inner security cabinet, with the likes of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid arguing for a diplomatic initiative following Operation Protective Edge. However, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon apparently said that the main lesson from the Gaza conflict is that, “Where the IDF has no freedom of action the threat of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Global Jihad develops with rockets and mortars.”

In response, Livni reportedly said that Israel must on the one hand resume negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and on the other work with the international community to change the reality on the ground in the Gaza Strip, increasing the PA presence and demilitarising Hamas. She reportedly commented, “Making do with ending the fighting and not doing anything is a mistake” and told Ya’alon “go to every single resident of the area near the Gaza border and tell them … they should start preparing for the next round.” An unnamed minister is quoted by Haaretz saying “policy on the peace process is what could threaten the stability of the coalition, not the 2015 budget.”

Meanwhile, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper says that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who suggested a number of gestures to help re-start peace talks. However, Netanyahu reportedly rejected the idea of a prisoner release. Nonetheless, in recent weeks, Netanyahu has spoken in public about the possibility of a “new diplomatic horizon” with a prominent role for Abbas.

The Financial Times this morning says that a senior Palestinian delegation will travel to Washington this week to meet with Kerry and present its own diplomatic initiative, which will focus on a United Nations resolution to set borders.