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Israel's Lieberman says he favours Quartet plan

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman today said he favours the adoption of a plan by the international Quartet that foresees a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of 2012.

world Updated: Sep 25, 2011 11:59 IST


Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he favours the adoption of a plan by the international Quartet that foresees a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of 2012.

"I think we must accept the Quartet proposal, for it includes a very positive point -- the opening of negotiations with no preconditions," he told Israeli public radio from New York.

The peacemaking Quartet -- the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia -- proposed a new timetable for talks in a statement shortly after the Palestinians submitted their bid for UN membership on Friday.

Talks between the two sides have been on hold for nearly a year, grinding to a halt shortly after they were relaunched in Washington over the issue of Jewish settlements.

Speaking a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said he was ready to accept the Quartet plan, Lieberman said he still had some reservations about the proposal.

"The Americans deployed major efforts within the Quartet to come up with this proposal, while supporting us in the crisis over our embassy in Cairo and in President Barack Obama's speech to the UN" on Wednesday, he said.

Egyptian protesters stormed the US mission in Cairo earlier this month, leading to its evacuation, and Obama's UN speech was slammed by the Palestinians who called it a display of US bias towards Israel.

"I hope the Palestinians face up to their responsibilities this time," Lieberman said, accusing Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of "constantly looking for excuses not to negotiate."

Abbas on Saturday said he wants to amend an "unfair" agreement on economic ties with Israel, referring to the Protocol on Economic Relations signed in Paris in 1994 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

"It (the agreement) contains restrictions that affect the Palestinian economy and hinder its development. The Paris agreement does not allow Palestinians to promote their economy," Abbas said.

"He has just found a new pretext, demanding the modification of the Paris accords between us and the Palestinians," Lieberman said.

"But for us there is no question of changing anything in these accords, not even a single comma," he warned.

Netanyahu on Saturday said in an interview with Israel's Channel 10 from the United States he was willing to accept the Quartet plan, but was cautious when asked about the chances of reaching a deal by the end of next year.

"If the Quartet calls for the resumption of direct negotiations without preconditions, I think it's an important thing," he said.

"If there is a willingness to conclude (the peace deal), it will succeed, because it is promising (but) if the will does not exist, it will not work."

Netanyahu said his government's official position on the Quartet proposal would be announced in the coming days.

First Published: Sep 25, 2011 11:57 IST

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