Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Libya on Thursday to seek Arab League backing for his decision to quit direct talks with Israel until the settlement construction moratorium is renewed, amid no signs that the US and Israel have a formula in hand to break the impasse.
Netanyahu made the following statements:
“We honored the government decision and took upon ourselves a commitment to the international community and the US to start the peace talks,” Netanyahu said of the 10- month moratorium that ended nearly two weeks ago.
“The Palestinians waited over nine months and, immediately at the onset of the talks, set a precondition even though they had promised that there would be no preconditions.”
But, said Netanyahu during a visit to Lod, “Today, the questions need to be directed to the Palestinians: Why are you abandoning the talks? Don’t turn your backs on peace; stay in the talks. This is what needs to be asked today, and not of the Israeli government.”
Back to the Arab League:
In Jerusalem, meanwhile, the widespread assessment was that the Arab League would back Abbas’s decision to leave the talks if Israel did not declare another settlement freeze, or did not declare that it would accept the principle of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, borders.
The Arab foreign ministers will be meeting in the Libyan city of Serte on Friday.
In other news, we see violence now escalating in the West Bank region:
IDF kills two Hamas militants in Hebron shootout
During an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed two Hamas men who took part in the Kiryat Arba shooting attack which resulted in the death of four Israelis.
Two militants, Mamun Natashe and Nasat al-Karmi, were killed during the operation. There were no Israeli casualties. Six additional Hamas men were arrested with a number of weapons in their possession.
The two wanted men, Mamun Natashe and Nasat al-Karmi, were considered terrorists "with blood on their hands," for their involvement in several shooting attacks in the West Bank. Both have served jail sentences in Israeli prisons.
Also back in the news is the Hezbollah-Syrian connection:
Satellite images reveal Hezbollah militants training in Syria
The Syrian army has a Scud missile base near Damascus, according to recent satellite photos. The photos also suggest that Hezbollah activists are being trained in the Scuds' use at the base.
Reports that Syria may have given Hezbollah Scuds ratcheted up tensions between Jerusalem and Damascus about six months ago, according to foreign media.
The photos, taken on March 22, can be seen by any web surfer on Google Earth. They show extensive construction at several military bases throughout Syria, including at one of the country's three largest missile bases, located 25 kilometers northeast of Damascus, near the city of Adra.
In April, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad was arming Hezbollah with Scuds. The paper did not mention the type of Scud, but the Scud C has a range of approximately 600 kilometers.
About a month later, Amos Harel reported in Haaretz that Damascus had given Hezbollah highly accurate and lethal M-600 rockets with a range of 300 kilometers.
In late May, the Sunday Times of London reported that shipments of weapons from the Adra base were going to Hezbollah, and that according to anonymous security sources, Iran was sending missiles and other weapons to that base via the nearby Damascus airport. It also said Hezbollah had been given a section of the base for barracks, warehouses and a fleet of trucks to transport weapons to the Lebanese border, 40 kilometers away.
Earlier that month, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the head of research for Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "The long-range missiles Syria recently gave to Hezbollah are just the tip of the iceberg. Hezbollah already has thousands of rockets of all kinds and all ranges."
A region that is just on the brink. When this powder keg gets ignited, things are going to get very interesting.