LONDON (EJP)---Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Silvan Shalom told a London conference that he is making moves to restart the peace process with the Palestinians, without giving details.
Silvan Shalom, who has been appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin to leadIsrael’s delegation in any future peace talks, said he would welcome a return to the table. “We would like to resume the negotiations, but it takes two to tango. We would like to do it today.”
He was speaking Monday at the “UK-Israel Shared Strategic Challenges Conference,” organised by advocacy group BICOM and the Jewish News. Israel’s Interior
Shalom said that “The Palestinians have chosen the unilateral path… they want to achieve their targets at any price.”
He said the loosening of roadblocks and checkpoints during Ramadan was a confidence-building measure.
He added that any moves should be based on reciprocity.
The minister said settlements were used as “an excuse” by the international community, adding that he would welcome a European role in negotiations if the EU adopted a “more balanced” approach.
When asked whether he remained of the opinion that settlements outside the main blocs in the West Bank should be removed as part of a two-state solution, he replied that there was “no sovereignty in the West Bank… Israel is a democracy, if anyone – Labour, Likud, Zionist Union – decide on that policy, then it will happen”.
Meanwhile, Israel’s opposition andZionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, who also spoke at the London gathering, said in conversation with the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, “We have to move on the peace process. I demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu moves.” He also called for a “long-term demilitarisation” plan for Gaza, involving the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and European countries.
The conference also discussed Israel’s concern over the nascent agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme. Shalom said, “We don’t like the deal, it’s no secret. The Iranians are cheating, trying to buy time, and they are now very, very close to achieve their goal.”
Herzog said there is “no daylight” between himself and Netanyahu on Iran.‘’There is no difference between me and Netanyahu in reading the threat of Iran’’, he said.
He demanded assurances over inspections and sanctions relief, commenting, “The world should be tough, no ifs and buts. World safety is in jeopardy.”
“I’m pleading to the world leadership to make sure that this agreement is thorough and tough, that it’s ironclad, because you are dealing with inherent issues of security, not only for Israel. Look what’s going on: the Iranians are spreading military capabilities throughout the region, look what’s going on in Yemen, Hizbollah, their cooperation with Assad, terror activities the world over, undermining regimes and states.”