Lieberman: West Bank settlement must go on

Israel's hardline foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday urged an end to the partial halt to Jewish West Bank settlement building next month and cast doubt on the success of imminent direct peace negotiations.

Adopting his customary public posture as the Cabinet's hawkish outrider, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party insisted a continuation of the settlement slowdown would "punish" tens of thousands of his fellow-settlers.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House launch of the talks next week, has told Washington he will pull out of the negotiations if the moratorium on settlement building ends as planned on 26 September.

Mr Lieberman told Israel Radio he realised that resuming settlement construction would antagonise both the US and the Palestinian leadership. He added: "We don't need to create unnecessary conflicts but we don't need to punish and we don't need to fold either."

Mr Lieberman said of the Palestinian leadership who have agreed to re-enter talks after intense US-led pressure: "They are not coming out of true goodwill to make peace, they are coming because they were forced to come. I think everyone should lower expectations."

A debate is already under way within the Israeli Cabinet over what, if anything, to offer on settlement construction as a means of keeping the talks going. One of its senior members from the dominant Likud Party, Dan Meridor, has proposed a compromise under which building would resume freely only in the "settlement blocs" which Israel expects to fall within its borders under any peace deal.

So far it remains unclear whether Mr Netanyhau and his fellow ministers would agree to that in the face of settler demands for a full ending on the freeze – or whether it would be enough to keep Mr Abbas in the talks even if they did.

Mr Meridor said in a radio interview on Tuesday: "This is my position, it's not the government's position yet. I am mentioning it because we should try to reach an agreement on it. We're not there yet."

And the internal pressure on Mr Abbas was underlined yesterday when his supporters disrupted a meeting in Ramallah at which dissenters in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation had planned to demand that he should not enter negotiations without a total halt to settlement building.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935