Ex-Israeli minister: 'We should freeze settlements and negotiate'

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Ex-Israeli minister: 'We should freeze settlements and negotiate'

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The former Israeli minister and peace negotiator Yossi Beilin spoke to euronews about the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations.

Just days before the resolution is presented, euronews reporter Seamus Kearney asked Beilin about the current mood of the Israeli government and amongst the Israeli population.

Yossi Beilin, speaking from Tel Aviv, said: “Well, it’s difficult to sum up the mood of a population, but I would say people are worried [about] the resolution of the UN. The general feeling is that something bad might happen. This was the definition of the defence minister, Ehud Barak, that it might be a tsunami in September. And actually people understand that what is happening around us is not separate from the issue itself, namely the relations with Egypt, the relations with Turkey, and the resentment in the public opinion against Israel right now.”

Seamus Kearney, euronews: “You’ve been involved in politics for a long time. What are your personal views on how the Israeli government should now proceed?”

Yossi Beilin: “I must say that I did not understand how come Prime Minister Netanyahu refused the request of President Obama, a year ago, to freeze the settlements only for two months, in order to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority. I think that still this is the only option – the main option – to get back to the negotiating table.

“I don’t think that Netanyahu is up to a permanent agreement. I don’t believe he is ready to pay the minimal price requested by the pragmatic, current Palestinian leadership. I don’t believe the Palestinian leadership is able to bring to the table Hamas or the Gaza Strip, so the reasonable thing would be today to freeze the settlements and negotiate very quickly on the second phase of the road map, which is a Palestinian state, with provisional borders, conducive to a permanent agreement, but not now.

“If this is impossible I would recommend to negotiate intensively about the wording of the UN resolution. I think that one might find a bridge of words, which might make this resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, rather than a kind of a punishment to Israel, something which would be in favour of both of the Palestinians and the Israelis, referring to the parameters of the permanent solution. And if that happens, then as a result of the resolution, we might open negotiations, at least on the interim solution.”

Seamus Kearney, euronews: “We know that the US says it will veto full Palestinian UN membership. But how is the Israeli government likely to react if the General Assembly does vote in favour of this resolution?”

Yossi Beilin: “Well, there is no question today that there is a huge majority in the General Assembly, and I don’t believe that as a result of it the Israeli government is in a situation to punish anybody, to annex territories or things like this. I mean, there are things that our [foremost] diplomat Mr Lieberman is saying, that if this happens or that happens, then he will punish the world. I hope the prime minister will prevent him from doing such things. I don’t believe there is an arsenal of punishments in the pocket of our government.”