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Netanyahu Plans to Meet With European Leaders on Iranian Nuclear Talks


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International Herald Tribune October 4, 2013 By Jodi Rudoren

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Friday that he would meet with European leaders next week in hopes of influencing the negotiations scheduled to begin Oct. 15 over Iran’s nuclear program, part of what he described as a “comprehensive international struggle.”

Mr. Netanyahu spent the last three days in an intense media blitz following a speech at the United Nations on Tuesday in which he tried to unmask what he has repeatedly denounced as a “charm offensive” by the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. Mr. Rouhani has agreed to engage in talks with the United States and other Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program, which he insists is solely for civilian purposes. But he wants the economic sanctions against his country relaxed and some uranium enrichment capabilities maintained, conditions that Mr. Netanyahu virulently opposes.

In a series of interviews with major American broadcasters, Mr. Netanyahu referred to Iran as a cult and called for the complete dismantling of its nuclear facilities. He said he was in discussions with President Obama about what kind of agreement with Tehran might be acceptable.

Upon landing in Israel, the prime minister’s spokesman also took issue with an article published in the Friday editions of The New York Times that said Mr. Obama, fearing that Mr. Netanyahu was on the verge of carrying out an airstrike against Iran’s nuclear plants a year ago, sent two emissaries here to stop him.

The prime minister’s spokesman declined to answer questions about how close Mr. Netanyahu came last year to attacking Iran, and acknowledged that the prime minister had no way of knowing for sure what agenda Mr. Obama or members of his administration had for the visits.

2.Palestinians in Peace Talks With Israel Offer Resignations

IHT, October 31, 2013 By Isabel Kershner

JERUSALEM – The Palestinian negotiators engaged in peace talks with Israel offered their resignations on Thursday in protest over the continuing construction of Israeli settlements and what Palestinians say is a lack of strong American action on this issue, according to an official involved in the process.

Some officials said that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was not likely to accept the resignations and that the talks would go on uninterrupted. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The talks resumed three months ago after having been stalled for years. Secretary of State John Kerry helped get the sides back to the table, and his special envoy is facilitating the talks.

With Mr. Kerry due back in the region next week, the offers of resignation appeared to be a message of frustration directed primarily at the Americans.

In order to resume the talks, Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners in four groups and the Palestinian leadership pledged to hold off its efforts to seek action against Israel in the International Criminal Court and to elevate the Palestinian role in other international organizations.

But with each prisoner release – there have been two so far – the Israeli government has tried to appease right-wing members of the coalition by advancing settlement construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, moves that have deeply embarrassed the Palestinians.

In particular, the Palestinian leadership is furious over claims that were made this week in the Israeli news media and by internal enemies of Mr. Abbas that he had agreed to settlement building in return for the release of prisoners.

The Palestinian official said that a plea for the Americans to issue a statement denying any such deal went unheeded.

Addressing the issue as he greeted the returning prisoners in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Wednesday, Mr. Abbas said that “unpatriotic” individuals had made claims about a quid pro quo regarding prisoners and settlement building but that such talk was nonsense and that the Palestinians would never agree to settlement construction.

Also Thursday, a Hamas militant was killed and several others were wounded when Israeli forces fired a tank shell at a group of Palestinian gunmen in Gaza, near the border with Israel, according to Gaza security officials and witnesses.

Israeli news media said that the Israeli forces had first come under mortar fire from Gaza. A spokeswoman for the military said only that forces had been carrying out “a pinpoint and defensive activity” near the border.

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