Israel warns about violent clashes as US concerned negotiations will not survive weekend

September 21, 2010

Israel’s Chief of Staff on Tuesday warned that violent clashes could resume between Israelis and Palestinians in case peace negotiations failed.

“We must be prepared for every possibility,” Gabi Ashkenazi told Israeli lawmakers. “The Palestinians have very sobre expectations regarding progress, whereas in Israel, tensions exist among the Jewish population and the aspiration to end the construction freeze in settlements” he said, quoted by Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to the army chief, among the Palestinians there are “groups who will try to thwart the negotiations and grab attention.”

The army chief made his remarks a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would want to keep its troops on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state, telling American Jewish leaders that an international force alone could not ensure Israel’s security.

Palestinians reject the idea and have proposed deploying international force along the border between the West Bank and Jordan, as part of a peace settlement, the daily said.

Netanyahu told US Jewish leaders in a conference call that the only force that can be relied on to defend the Jewish people is the Israel army.

Netanyahu fears Palestinian militants will attack Israel from within a Palestinian state if Israeli troops are withdrawn from the West Bank-Jordan border.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas maintains that an Israeli troop presence would infringe upon Palestinian sovereignty.

The Palestinian Authority and Israel are currently engaging in direct negotiations, after nearly two years of stalled face-to-face talks.

While both have agreed that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a main goal of the talks, they are at odds over Israel decision not to extend its temporary construction freeze in West Bank settlements after it expires next week.

The United States is concerned that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could collapse in the coming days over the dead end in the talks on the settlement building freeze.

America’s ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, told European Union envoys in a briefing that the Obama administration’s worry stems from the fact that both sides are holding steadfast to their positions.

European diplomats say Cunningham stressed during the briefing there is still no solution to the deadlock. The US ambassador said that the Obama administration was pressuring both Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement on the issue.

Cunningham also reportedly said there are a number of ideas for a resolution that the US has not put forth as a mediating solution.

“We will offer a bridging proposal only if the two sides ask for it, and that has still not happened,” the US ambassador told his European colleagues. “We are very concerned that there is not much time left for finding a solution.”

Several European diplomats said the American ambassador stressed that without a resolution on this issue, there will be no way to progress in the negotiations.

The ambassador expressed the US administration’s genuine concern “the negotiations will not survive the weekend,” said a European diplomat present at the briefing, the paper said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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