Israel’s foreign minister says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with the Palestinian and U.S. presidents was a success because it took place without preconditions.
Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli radio Wednesday the government has proved it must not surrender or make concessions.
The Palestinians have said they will not resume peace talks until Israel stops building settlements for Jewish families in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Washington has supported that position, but U.S. President Barack Obama said after the summit in New York Tuesday that both sides should be ready for compromise.
He called for Israeli “restraint” on settlement activity, a change from his earlier demand for a freeze on construction.
For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israeli settlement activity must stop for talks to begin.
Despite that, Mr. Netanyahu said there was general agreement the peace process must resume as soon as possible, without preconditions.
The three-way summit took place in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Before the meeting, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas stood before photographers and awkwardly shook hands.
U.S. special envoy George Mitchell will meet Israeli and Palestinian officials again next week. And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will brief President Obama on the status of the negotiations in mid-October.
The settlement dispute is not the only issue stalling the Middle East peace process. The two sides have yet to agree on the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of a future Palestinian state.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
Photo credit: President Barack Obama, President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands before a trilateral at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, New York on Tuesday September 22, 2009. Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton, courtesy of the White House.