Netanyahu held secret peace talks for resolving conflict with Palestinians

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

New York [USA], Feb. 20(ANI): Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a regional peace initiative last year that was brokered by then-American Secretary of State John Kerry, in apparent contradiction to his stated goal of involving regional Arab powers in resolving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. According to Fox News, Netanyahu took part in a secret summit that Kerry organized in the southern Jordanian port city of Aqaba last February and included Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. According to two former Obama administration officials, Kerry proposed regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state -- a key Netanyahu demand -- alongside a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries. Netanyahu rejected the offer, which would have required a significant pullout from occupied land, saying he would not be able to garner enough support for it in his hard-line coalition government. The initiative also appeared to be the basis of short-lived talks with moderate opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join the government, a plan that quickly unraveled when Netanyahu chose to bring in nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman instead and appoint him defense minister. Herzog tweeted Sunday that "history will definitely judge the magnitude of the opportunity as well as the magnitude of the missed opportunity." Two former top aides to Kerry confirmed that the meeting took place secretly on February 21, 2016. According to the officials, Kerry tried to sweeten the 15-year-old "Arab Peace Initiative," a Saudi-led plan that offered Israel peace with dozens of Arab and Muslim nations in return for a pullout from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war to make way for an independent Palestine.(ANI)
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