Tuesday, May 7, 2013

China As Peace Broker Between Palestine and Israel

Too soon to break out champagne but this can be a very positive development.  Thanks to Juan Cole for the heads up. 

Peace is like air and sunshine. You are not aware of them when you are benefitted from them. But when you lose them, you can hardly survive. If there is no peace, we cannot talk about development. The Chinese people have deep-seated memory of the distress brought about by wars and turmoil, and pursue peace tirelessly. Such a memory and pursuit is the special nature of the Chinese culture, and the spiritual temperament of the Chinese diplomacy.

Zhong Sheng Article “The Positive Energy of Peace in the Middle East”
Renmin Ribao Online -- Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Monday, May 6, 2013


In other news (or is this related?)

Netanyahu said to freeze new settlement construction
PM reportedly tells housing minister to ‘rein in’ projects until June; Jewish Home indicates it may undermine budget in response
By Michal Shmulovich May 7

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frozen tenders for construction in West Bank settlements, amid a renewed Western push to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Army Radio reported Tuesday. 
Illustrative photo: A view of Efrat, a settlement near
Jerusalem (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel of the pro-settler Jewish Home party was given the instruction to delay new West Bank construction projects, likely due to American pressure, in a move that would require special approval for any project, the report said.

Netanyahu promised US Secretary of State John Kerry to “rein in” settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until June, the Haaretz daily reported. 
Late last year,Netanyahu announced a series of housing projects in the West Bank in response to the Palestinian Authority’s successful unilateral bid to upgrade its status in the United Nations. 
Ariel, the construction minister, refused to comment on the report in an interview Tuesday morning, confirming only that he was set to meet with Netanyahu upon the prime minister’s return from China. Asked by Army Radio about rumors that his Jewish Home party would withdraw support for the budget if a settlement freeze is implemented, Ariel said that he would stick by previous statements he had made on the issue, implying that his party would indeed undermine efforts to pass the budget. 
MK Ayelet Shaked, a member of Ariel’s party, reportedly confirmed news of the freeze, calling it a “disgrace.” 
Palestinians have been demanding that Israel halt all settlement activity as a precondition for resuming peace talks. Thus far, Netanyahu has maintained that settlement construction was among the issues to be discussed at the negotiating table, along with other final-status issues such as Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, borders, and security. 
In November 2009, facing mounting pressure from US President Barack Obama, Netanyahu implemented a settlement freeze that lasted 10 months. The measure ultimately failed to rekindle talks becauseNetanyahu ended the freeze amid Palestinian demands that it be extended.

In a speech in Jerusalem in March, US President Barack Obama urged Israelis to once again halt construction as a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinians to get peace negotiations back under way. ”Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace,” he said.

That speech signaled a renewed American-led bid to relaunch peace negotiations after over three years of stagnation. To that effect, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who’s heading Israel’s diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis the Palestinians, is set to meet Kerry in Rome on Wednesday.

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