End Times News Update
Sign: Covenant With Many (Mideast peace news)
Scripture: Daniel 9:27
News Source: My Way News
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Biden urges Israel to take risks for peace

Mar 9, 9:25 AM (ET)
By ARON HELLER

JERUSALEM (AP) – The U.S. will back those willing to “take risks for
peace,” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday during the
highest-level visit to Israel by an Obama administration official.

Biden said he was pleased that Israelis and Palestinians had agreed
this week to resume indirect peace negotiations with U.S. mediation.
His two-day visit to Israel seemed clearly aimed at assuaging Israeli
concerns that President Obama has been less friendly to Israel than
his predecessors, saying the relationship has always been a
“centerpiece of American policy” and offering effusive praise.

“Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is
simply no space between the United States and Israel,” he said, a day
after the U.S. announced Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to begin
indirect peace talks, breaking a 14-month deadlock.

The announcement of indirect talks, which will be held through a U.S.
mediator, marked President Barack Obama’s first diplomatic
breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the new peace
push is sure to face enormous challenges, including sharp divisions
among the Palestinians and a hardline Israeli government seen as
unlikely to make wide-ranging concessions.

Biden said he hoped the beginning of indirect talks would be “a
vehicle by which we can begin to allay that layer of mistrust that has
built up in the last several years.”

“The United States will always stand with those who take risks for
peace,” Biden said standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu. He told the Israeli leader, “you’re prepared to do that.”
The appearance, which included warm banter between the two men, ended
with Netanyahu telling Biden that trees had been planted outside
Jerusalem in honor of the vice president’s late mother. “My love for
your country was watered by that Irish lady,” Biden responded.

Polls show that Israelis have come to see Obama as less sympathetic to
Israel than previous presidents. Biden’s comments appeared aimed at
softening the administration’s image both among Israelis and their
American supporters, whose backing is seen as crucial ahead of
November’s congressional elections.

The vice president also offered assurances that the U.S. remained
committed to Israel’s well-being, speaking of the administration’s
“total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”

Iran appeared to loom large in Biden’s discussions with Netanyahu, and
in the joint appearance with the Israeli leader Biden said: “We are
determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Israel has been pushing for stricter international sanctions targeting
Iran’s nuclear program, and has refused to rule out a military strike
if sanctions fail.

Obama began his term with a push for Mideast peace, prodding Israel to
freeze its construction of West Bank settlements that swallow up land
the Palestinians want for a future state. But that call came just as
Netanyahu took over in Israel, and though the Israeli leader scaled
back settlement construction, he would not accept a full freeze.
Obama’s insistence on a total settlement freeze is seen by many in the
region to have backfired by encouraging Palestinians to stake out a
position that was politically untenable for Israel’s hawkish
government.

Biden called Netanyahu’s partial freeze “significant,” but the
Palestinians are still saying they will not talk directly to Israel
unless it freezes settlement building completely.

But hours after Biden’s arrival Monday, the U.S. announced the sides
would begin indirect peace negotiations. The fact that the discussions
will be held through a U.S. mediator attests to the estrangement
between the Israelis and Palestinians, who have been speaking to each
other directly, on and off, since the early 1990s. The agreement to
restart talks was marred the same day by an Israeli announcement of
approval for 112 new housing units in a West Bank settlement, drawing
Palestinian condemnation.

To reach a peace agreement, the sides will have to agree on the border
between them, including a division of Jerusalem. They will also have
to work out a compromise on the fate of Palestinians who lost their
homes when Israel was founded in 1948 and agree on how to guarantee
Israel’s security after it leaves the high ground and strategic depth
of the West Bank.

Despite numerous rounds of peace talks over nearly 20 years and heavy
U.S. involvement, the sides have been unable to bridge the gaps on
those tough issues.

With the Islamic militant Hamas openly committed to Israel’s
destruction and now in charge of the Gaza Strip, and with Israel
governed by a coalition suspicious of concessions to the Palestinians,
there are reasons to doubt whether an agreement will be possible this
time.

On the other hand, the fact that some Israeli hard-liners, like
Netanyahu himself, have come to accept the idea of Palestinian
independence, and that the Palestinians in the West Bank are now ruled
by moderates, might offer some hope.

Source: My Way News
URL:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100309/D9EB5KJO0.html

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