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Mofaz: 'Strategic situation worse' on Iran

In an interview with Al-Monitor, former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz argues that US over-involvement in Israeli-Palestinian talks only alienated both sides, and the only feasible solution is a two-stage agreement with the Palestinians, even while talking with Hamas.
Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz (C) leaves after convening a news conference in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv July 17, 2012. Israel's Kadima party quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition on Tuesday in a dispute over drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, but the government was not expected to collapse because it still had a majority in parliament. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY RELIGION) - RTR350PV

“The more involved the Americans get in the negotiations, the greater our differences with the Palestinians become.” That was what former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima Party) argued, following the failure of the Kerry initiative to reach a diplomatic arrangement.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mofaz estimated that there would be an effort to renew the negotiations in the next few months. If it is an American initiative, however, this will only increase the difficulties that the parties face. “I was still in uniform when I attended the Wye River Summit, which led to the Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron. Whenever the Americans were in the room and we had no direct access to the Palestinians, everyone spoke only to the Americans and as a result, became even more entrenched in their positions,” said Mofaz, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. According to him, US involvement should include accompanying the talks and providing guarantees, but it is very important that the two parties speak directly to one another. In the last attempt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not even meet. Now Mofaz is calling for the implementation of a plan he presented in November 2009. His proposal calls for the creation of a Palestinian state on 50% to 60% of the territory of the West Bank as first stage, followed by a second stage of negotiations in a set time frame to resolve core issues. Mofaz did not rule out talks with Hamas in his plan either.

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