Oren: Gov't will reach settlement deal
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
Incoming ambassador to the United States said Tuesday he was confident that his government will soon reach an agreement with Washington to allow some construction in West Bank settlements.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's designated envoy to Washington, Michael Oren, said there is enough "wiggle room" to find "creative solutions" to work out a deal with Washington.
"I think there is flexibility on both sides and I'm confident that we can work this out. I think that both the [Barack] Obama administration and Israel want to move forward on the peace process. We don't want to get caught up in this issue," Oren told the Associated Press.
"The goal here is to remove the settlement issue as an impediment to advancing the peace process, he said. "I think on the American side, there's an appreciation of that eagerness."
Oren gave no details on how Israel expects to bridge its differences with Washington. Netanyahu is expected to discuss the matter next week with the White House's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371114580&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
Israel ready to negotiate on core issues: envoy
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to resume peace talks with the Palestinians that would cover core issues like borders and refugees, his new envoy to Washington said on Tuesday.
But, in an interview with Reuters, ambassador Michael Oren cautioned that on the status of Jerusalem, which is also among "core" issues in the peace process, Netanyahu had a firm position that the city must be the undivided capital of Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama wants Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks as soon as possible and has welcomed as positive Netanyahu's conditional endorsement this week of the goal of Palestinian statehood.
But it is unclear when negotiations over core issues will resume. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ruled out resuming the negotiations until Netanyahu freezes building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Resuming negotiations on core issues, particularly over the future of Jerusalem, could splinter Netanyahu's coalition government, where right-wing and religious parties are strongly opposed to acceding to Palestinians' demand for at least a part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
"The core issue would be, for example, the borders between us and the Palestinians," Oren said when asked which core issues would be discussed in future talks.
He said Netanyahu's demands that a future Palestinian state be demilitarized were another core issue.
"The refugee issue, both the Palestinian refugee issue, as well as the Jewish refugee issue -- the Jews who were forced out of Arab lands -- those are core issues," he added.
Israel has long insisted it does not accept a Palestinian demand that refugees who fled in the war of Israel's creation in 1948 should be able to return to homes that are now in Israel.
It has also at times related calls for compensation for those refugees to the losses of Jews who lost homes in countries like Iraq, Iran, Morocco and Egypt after Israel was established.
Asked if Netanyahu was also open to negotiations on the status of Jerusalem, Oren said: "Israel's position has been and remains that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of the state of Israel."
Asked if Netanyahu was setting acceptance of that position as a precondition for talks or was open to negotiations on the Jerusalem issue, Oren responded: "It is our position."