Mitchell back in region, asks Netanyahu to be forthcoming about "core issues"

It was announced by the U.S. State Department today that “Prime Minister Netanyahu and Special Envoy Mitchell explored, in a long and positive discussion, the best way to approach the substantive core issues and advance toward our goal of peace”.

Earlier, Netanyahu gave the Israeli leadership’s take on this meeting in a speech to the Globes business forum that “Today U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell is coming to Israel. He will talk with me today, and tomorrow he will travel to the Palestinian Authority to talk with Abu Mazen. I believe that the United States has succeeded in understanding after a year and a half that we were, in fact, on a dead end road, in a discussion that was in great measure unproductive regarding the peripheral issue of construction, of additional construction in the settlements. The United States understood that what is important is getting to the important issues, the substantial issues, including the core issues that are at the root of the conflict between us and the Palestinians. I welcome the fact that it made this decision, although in the discussions we conducted, we were prepared to examine an additional extension of the moratorium. The United States came to the conclusion, maybe even on the first day, regarding the additional 90 days, that if the Palestinians came to the table, they would talk about the ninety-first day, about extending the moratorium. This is not the way to achieve peace. In order to achieve peace, the issues that are truly delaying the peace must be discussed: the question of recognition, the question of security, the question of various arrangements, refugees, etc., and of course many additional issues. I welcome the fact that we will begin our discussions on these issues; we will narrow the gaps; and probably later on, when these gaps are narrowed, we will also begin direct negotiations with the goal of reaching a framework peace agreement. What we are doing now, in my opinion, is a necessary condition for genuine, concrete discussions regarding the core questions through which a peace agreement can be reached. Therefore, I welcome this American decision. It is good for Israel and it is good for peace”.

In the same speech, the Israeli Prime Minister spoke about the train line which Israel is already building to the Sheikh Hussein crossing to Jordan (just south of the Sea of Galilee) used by Israelis (and foreign passport holders), “with the possibility of connecting a rail line that would of course travel to Irbid and could eventually continue eastwards towards Iraq. There is a lot of sense in this – the British didn’t build these rail lines for no reason. The geographic sense of this can open a door to peace. Certainly the Palestinians could connect to this rail line at their industrial areas near Jenin and sell their goods both to Europe and, no less important, to the Arab world”…

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