Israel minister: Talks not on Palestine's agenda
Jerusalem - The Palestinians have no interest in restarting negotiations with Israel and are just biding their time before returning to the UN, Israel's ultra-nationalist foreign minister said on Monday.
His remarks were made just hours before Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to convene in Amman for their second exploratory meeting in a week, aimed at finding a way to get back to negotiations after a hiatus of more than 15 months.
"From their point of view, they have been dragged against their will into the negotiations in Jordan," Lieberman told MPs at the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence.
"It is their intention to carry on with talks in Jordan until January 26, and immediately afterward to renew their offensive at the UN to achieve recognition," the committee spokesperson quoted him as saying of the Palestinian attempt to secure full state membership at the United Nations.
Israel fiercely opposes Palestine’s bid.
The diplomatic Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia has called on Israel and the Palestinians to present comprehensive proposals on borders and security before January 26, with an eye to resuming direct talks shortly afterwards.
"Anyone talking about progress in talks with the Palestinians has no idea what he's talking about," Lieberman said.
Talks between the two sides broke down in September 2010 when an Israeli freeze on new West Bank settlement construction expired and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to renew it.
The Palestinians say they will not negotiate while Israel builds settlements and without a clear framework for negotiations. Israel says it wants talks without preconditions.
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that his side's policy was unchanged.
"All these moves are a preventative tactic in order to keep the ball in the Israeli court," he told Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.
"The Palestinian stance has not changed in terms of not returning to negotiations unless Israel halts settlement activities."