Netanyahu ponders peace initiatives

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The Independent Online

Israel has concluded that a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot be reached at present and is weighing alternatives to try to prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive, officials said yesterday.

With popular protests shaking the Middle East, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under international pressure to prove he is serious about peacemaking, especially after the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's West Bank settlement construction last month.

Israeli officials are meeting international mediators, including the US envoy Dennis Ross and representatives of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers – the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia – due to arrive in the region next week.

Mr Netanyahu, pictured, is expected to deliver a policy speech on peacemaking soon, hinting at a change in direction away from direct talks on a peace treaty. Privately, officials say the Prime Minister is considering a phased approach to peacemaking, but it is unclear if he is open to the concept of a Palestinian state within temporary borders.