PLO Demands Settlement Freeze for Resumption of Talks

Israeli Cabinet Vote Hinges on Lieberman

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has announced that they will not resume the direct peace talks with Israel unless the Israeli government agrees to resume its settlement freeze across the occupied West Bank.

The talks stalled last week when the Israeli government allowed the freeze to expire, and while Prime Minister Netanyahu had initially ruled out the extension he is now said to be pushing for a temporary extension in the nation’s cabinet.

Which according to Israel’s press is going to be an extremely contentious vote, and appears to depend entirely on which way Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman votes. As Lieberman has been an outspoken critic of both the freeze and the peace process in general, it seems like it will be a difficult vote to win.

Reports have the Obama Administration offering major concessions if Israel will even agree to a 60 day limited extension. Though the White House has denied that any such offer has been made, it appears to be the crux of the vote in the Israeli cabinet, and would be the only reason a number of hawkish cabinet members would consider such a vote.

But a number of Israel’s far right cabinet members, particularly the religious blocs, have angrily opposed the extension and threatened to withdraw from the government over the issue. Even if the Netanyahu government won the extension it might do serious damage to his coalition government and force an early election.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.