Israeli Foreign Minister says Palestinians `wasted time`

Palestinian negotiators "wasted time" during Israel`s 10-month settlement moratorium but peace talks have not ended, Israel`s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2010, 10:43 AM IST

United Nations: Palestinian negotiators
"wasted time" during Israel`s 10-month settlement moratorium
but peace talks have not ended, Israel`s Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman said.

For "nine months the Palestinians wasted time and
completely refused to accept this gesture and accused Israel
that it`s a fraud, it`s not serious," Lieberman told reporters
yesterday after meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"And today they are exerting pressure to maintain the
same moratorium that they previously rejected.

"I think that even the fact that they came to the table,
to the talks in the last weeks, it was not a real good
intention to achieve an agreement, but the Americans imposed
this process on them."

The foreign minister added: "The most important thing
today is to keep the political process alive despite all our
disputes."

"We are ready to continue the direct talks without
pre-conditions. It was our position from the first day when we
established this government, it is our position today, but we
are not ready for any preconditions."

Lieberman went on: "I think the end of moratorium is not
a reason to celebrate. We continue our normal life. We are a
responsible country and a responsible government. We`ll
continue to be responsible government in the future."
Israeli settlers resumed construction in the occupied
territories yesterday, hours after a 10-month old government
moratorium ended. The Palestinian leadership has threatened to
withdraw from US-organised peace negotiations over the
settlements.

In the meeting, the UN secretary general "expressed his
disappointment" that Israel did not extend the settlement
moratorium, a UN spokesman said.

He also expressed "concern at provocative actions taking
place on the ground" and highlighted that only direct
negotiations could end the Middle East conflict.

They also discussed events in Lebanon and Gaza. Lieberman
said Israel was worried about a proposed visit to Lebanon by
Iran`s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

PTI