Netanyahu a 'Partner for Peace'

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is as interested in peace as anyone else.

At an economic conference in Jerusalem Tuesday evening, Netanyahu told participants that his plans to help the Palestinians develop a strong economy will complement, not hinder, the peace process.

"I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security [and] for the rapid development of the Palestinian economy," the prime minister-designate said.

Netanyahu's remarks came shortly after the Labor party's Central Committee accepted the coalition agreement between Likud and Labor, signed by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak early Tuesday morning.

"I thank him [Barak] for doing something for the national good," Netanyahu said. "We need a strong, stable, national unity government," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters at a press conference Tuesday evening that he intends to continue pursuing a two-state solution in the Middle East.

"It is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states in peace and security," Obama said, employing the same phraseology as previous U.S. administrations.

Obama pointed out that his choice of George Mitchell for Middle East envoy made it obvious that "we're going to be serious from day one in trying to move the parties in a direction that acknowledges that reality."

But the road to a Palestinian national unity government hasn't smoothed out even slightly.

Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo between the two rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, ended in failure again last week.

"Frankly speaking, we were evolving in a vicious cycle in Cairo," senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said, admitting that the gap between the two factions is as wide as it has ever been.

"Hamas has not changed its position regarding the main controversial issues," he said. "We were just repeating our words and we had nothing new to say," al-Ahmed said.

Meanwhile, a large majority of Israelis support a broad unity government.

They can take heart that in the midst of one of the most difficult and dangerous periods in the nation's history, the new government, composed of people with widely divergent views, will manage to work together for the good of the country.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Ynet news

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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