Kahlon hints resumption of peace talks is imminent

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) hinted on Wednesday that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) may soon resume.

"The rumors and talk of a meaningful diplomatic process in our area have a much greater basis than some newspapers suggest. There is the possibility of a significant turnaround on the regional level," Kahlon said at a ceremony in Netanya.

"I call on the Zionist Union to join the government and not to miss this historic window of opportunity," he continued.

"You cannot lead a diplomatic move from the opposition nor can you produce change. I know the importance of an opposition in a democracy but there is an historic window of opportunity and it's their time to assist in the process," said Kahlon.

"This is not the time and place to provide details, but we have a rare opportunity for a significant shift on the regional level. Holding a regional conference in which all interested parties in the region is an important outline. The Kulanu party and I will support it and promote it with all our might," he added.

"Such a conference will change the rules of the game, will open additional channels for political progress and could take the relationship between us and our neighbors out of the deadlock. Such a move would be a significant catalyst for further expansion of the coalition and I do not think the Zionist Union will be able to avoid taking part," said the Finance Minister.

"As is well known, I have close relations and regular contact with senior ministers in the Palestinian Authority. We are making great efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy. We will continue and strengthen the relationship between us and the Palestinians and will base them on a healthy economy. Past experience teaches us that the seeds sowed in the economic sphere bear fruit in the political and security aspects as well," concluded Kahlon.

The comments come two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and newly sworn in Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a statement in favor of peace talks and the two-state solution to solve the conflict.

In the statement the two also expressed support for the recent call by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the sides to reach a peace agreement.

Kahlon’s comments also come as France prepares to convene a conference of foreign ministers on Friday to discuss the diplomatic stalemate.

Back in January when the French initiative was announced, Paris had threatened to unilaterally recognize the "state of Palestine" if it failed.

Since then, however, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault backtracked on the threat, saying France would not “automatically” recognize a Palestinian state if its initiative fails.

Israel has nonetheless rejected the French initiative, and Netanyahu repeated his objection to it on Wednesday, when he stressed that “the path to peace is not via international conferences that attempt to force a settlement” and that peace can only be achieved through direct talks.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/213136

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