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Israeli talk.... and no action

Whilst plans are afoot for yet another Middle East conference in relation to Palestine and Israel, the Israelis are continuing to build new and expand existing settlements in the West Bank. It therefore must be questioned whether Israel really has any legitimate intention in seeking any sort of accomodation with the Palestinians.

Today's news is that Israeli Foreign Minister is warning Condi Rice not to expect too much from the upcoming conference, as Haaretz reports:

"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has begun formulating "realistic" goals for the Washington Mideast summit scheduled for November. In recent conversations with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and in a meeting last Monday with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad, Livni said that all of the parties would serve to benefit from reasonable expectations for the summit. Unreasonable goals would cause the conference to end in failure, she said.

Jerusalem officials say Rice seems to be taking the opposite approach, believing that setting the bar high will lead to greater achievements. Livni warned Rice against acting too hastily, saying that expectations must be in keeping with developments on the ground."

Meanwhile, Haaretz editorialises that Israel doesn't seem to be serious about the removal of the settlements and obviously has no intention to even honor its commitments to remove the illegal settlements in the West Bank:

"Israeli leaders frequently cast doubt on the ability of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to implement any diplomatic agreement, due to his political weakness. But Israel also has a long-standing commitment - to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank - that it has evaded carrying out for years, each time on a different pretext. The upcoming peace conference in Washington provides an appropriate moment to put an end to this foot-dragging over the outposts and to prove that the Israeli government, headed by Ehud Olmert, is capable of fulfilling its obligations. A swift evacuation of outposts also would signal to both the United States and Saudi Arabia, which Olmert is hoping to draw into the diplomatic process, that Israel is serious, and is not just talking.

Yesterday, the ministerial committee on implementing Talia Sasson's report on the illegal outposts, which is chaired by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, met for the first time in about two years. The results were predictable. The ministers heard a report on the growth of the outposts, in defiance of the promises that each of the last two premiers made to the White House. Ramon asked the relevant professionals to propose new rules on planning and building in the settlements and to explain various gaps and contradictions in the data on the number of outposts. Minister Avigdor Lieberman utilized the discussion to remind his supporters that he represents the right wing in this government. And Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is responsible for evacuating the outposts, thus far has been prolonging the issue through discussions with the settlers on a voluntary evacuation - which, based on past experience, seem unlikely to produce results."

Bottom line....don't expect anything to come out of this supposed major and important upcoming conference. The Israelis have certainly flagged where they stand!


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