On the eve of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged more settlement in the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron, Haaretz has reported.
In a message to the illegal settlers in Hebron, Netanyahu said: “The renewal of Jewish settlement in the city [Hebron] is a sign of the Jews’ deep connection to it. I hope thousands of Jews arrive in the old city to attend the ceremony.”
Haaretz said that Netanyahu and Kerry are scheduled to hold an unusually long meeting, which might last for several hours. “The partly private meeting will focus on Israeli concessions for reaching a deal with the Palestinians,” said the Israeli daily. “Netanyahu is sceptical about the success of the negotiations as his position made very clear after his speech at Bar Ilan University.”
Kerry, it is claimed, wants Netanyahu to offer “clear and specific” answers about the talks with the Palestinians.
The Iranian nuclear issue is also on the agenda, as is the recent thaw in relations between Tehran and Washington, something that has alarmed the Israeli government.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking in Lithuania, made it clear that Israel would be responsible for any failure of the peace talks. “We will not accept that,” he said in response to a question on future Israeli military control of the borders of a demilitarised Palestinian state. “They do not have the right to stay on our land after the signing of the peace treaty,” he insisted.