Report: U.S. pressuring Israel on talks

June 13, 2011 at 7:15 AM
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JERUSALEM, June 13 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is being pressured to accept the U.S. Middle East peace proposal and resume negotiations, sources told Haaretz.

U.S. officials are frustrated with Netanyahu and think he is blocking American efforts to prevent Palestinian leaders from unilaterally seeking U.N. recognition of a state in September, Israeli sources told Haaretz in an article published Monday.

Isaac Molho, Netanyahu's personal envoy, was in Washington last week where U.S. officials presented their proposal for resuming talks based on President Barack Obama's speech May 19. Among other things, Obama's plan calls for negotiating over borders and security first and deferring discussions on issues such as Jerusalem and refugees. It also calls for borders based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps.

Using the1967 lines as a basis in talks refers to Israel's borders as they were before the 1967 Six Day War that led to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

If Israel were to block European initiatives, such as France's proposal for an international peace conference in Paris, it must offer something tangible, such as Netanyahu's agreement to negotiate on the basis of Obama's speech, sources told the Israeli publication.

U.S. diplomat David Hale arrives in Israel this week to meet with Molho and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

One U.S. official told Haaretz Netanyahu has asked the United States "to protect him in September" when the United Nations meets "but he isn't giving us any tools with which to help him."

A European diplomat said European officials want to hear Netanyahu say he's willing to negotiate on the basis of Obama's speech, Haaretz said.

Netanyahu was in Italy Monday, meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who already announced Italy will oppose any unilateral Palestinian move.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, Tuesday in Berlin.

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