Political Brief: Israeli PM Netanyahu wants nonstop talks with Palestinians

Source: AP, 1-2-11

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, convenes the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Ronen ZvulIsrael’s prime minister on Sunday proposed nonstop, face-to-face talks with the Palestinian president until a peace agreement is reached — offering a possible way to advance talks that have stalled over the construction of Jewish settlements.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal offers the appeal of leaders working together to make history, and it comes in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ latest claim — made over the weekend in South America — that genuine talks could yield a deal within months. But the Palestinians showed little enthusiasm for Netanyahu’s offer…

In his comments Sunday, Netanyahu urged the Palestinians to turn their focus away from settlements and instead work with him on the broader issues needed to reach a final peace deal.

He said he was ready to sit with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for “continuous direct one-on-one negotiations until white smoke is wafting,” an allusion to the Vatican’s custom for announcing a new pope.

“If Abu Mazen agrees to my proposal of directly discussing all the core issues, we will know very quickly if we can reach an agreement,” he said….READ MORE

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Netanyahu announces Carmel fire memorial, infrastructure repair

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF:

Source: JTA, 1-2-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to erect a memorial to those killed in the Carmel forest fire. Netanyahu made the pledge at Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, where the government approved $4.2 million to fix and improve the infrastructure destroyed in the fire. According to the plan, the rehabilitation will include structures that were burnt; damage to sewage, water, electricity and communications infrastructures; paving access roads; repairing gardening infrastructure; building playgrounds; cutting trees and general clean-up; and dealing with highways and traffic arrangements.

“This week we will mark 30 days since the major disaster in the Carmel area,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “We will hold a state memorial ceremony at Beit Oren, very close to the site of the disaster.  There, within one year, we will erect a memorial to those who perished, a monument to their heroism and their sacrifice.”

Netanyahu on Sunday also submitted a memorandum for a decision next week on the establishment of a national fire authority, an aerial firefighting force and an authority for dealing with earthquakes, and budgets for all three.

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