Mixed messages from Israel on Palestinians

Sept. 25, 2011 at 8:50 AM
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Israeli officials expressed both optimism and criticism Sunday of the Palestinian push for an independent state.

Speaking on Israel Radio, President Shimon Peres praised a proposition for bilateral negotiations within a month by the so-called Mideast Quartet of the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States.

"We would want a situation in which the political distance between Jerusalem and Ramallah was not greater than the geographical distance between them," Peres said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post he had reservations about negotiations following Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' appeal for statehood to the United Nations General Assembly last week.

"Mahmoud Abbas fled immediately after his speech, so that we could not, God forbid, negotiate," Lieberman said. "The Palestinians make up excuses not to negotiate all the time. Those who want excuses will find them."

Abbas also issued barbs in Ramallah, saying Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is the most inflexible Israeli leader he had ever known, Haaretz reported. Abbas said Netanyahu's "ideological positions do not allow him to advance forward."

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