Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government is making progress towards opening peace talks with the Palestinians.
As he was being welcomed by the German President in Berlin there were reports the Palestinians had agreed to meet with the Israelis on the sidelines of a UN summit next month. But Netanyahu wouldn’t say whether Israel had agreed to put a freeze on the construction of settlements which is a major sticking point. Netanyahu arrived in Germany after a meeting in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. Although talks with Mitchell were said to be “productive “ Israel is resisting US President Obama’s calls to halt settlement building so full peace talks can resume — this has led to a rare rift in Israel’s relationship with its main backer. French President Nicholas Sarkozy exerted more pressure on Israel saying: “Friends of Israel need to tell the truth, that there will be no peace with continued colonisation.” About half a million Israelis live in settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in territory captured by Israel’s military in the 1967 Middle East war.