Despite US, Israel in no hurry to make any deal with Palestinians

John Lyons; 15/5/10

Benjamin Netanyahu makes the right noises about peace, but his ministers haven’t got the memo. As Washington’s plan to force the resumption of Middle East peace talks was about to be announced last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called into his Jerusalem office several of the country’s leading journalists. It was strictly a background briefing.. That in itself was not unusual – many political leaders give “backgrounders” to try to infuse their message into the media. But what was unusual was the ferocity of the reporters. Israel’s leading journalists are an aggressive bunch and at the briefing last week they were even more ferocious. The theme of many questions, almost accusations, was that Netanyahu was not really serious about an agreement with Palestinians. Finally, Netanyahu had enough. He hit back with a counter-attack that amounted to this: you may think I’m not serious because I insist on any Palestinian state being demilitarised but it is because I am serious that I insist on this. The only way any peace agreement could be sold to the Israeli public, he argued, was if it contained these safeguards.