Netanyahu cancels final inner cabinet meeting before direct talks begin
Yitzhak Molcho, aide to Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's chief negotiator, is due to depart for the United States to discuss opening remarks at trilateral peace summit.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday canceled a scheduled meeting of the most senior cabinet ministers, meant to be the last such meeting before Netanyahu heads for Washington for the resumption of U.S-mediated peace talks with the Palestinians.
The meeting between of Netanyahu's inner cabinet, known as the 'Forum of Seven,' was scheduled to take place at 9:30 A.M., and was reportedly called off by the PM early Monday morning. The reason for the cancellation is unknown.
Netanyahu aide and Israel's chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho was due to depart for the United States later Monday in order to hold preparatory talks ahead of Wednesday's trilateral summit between U.S. President Barack Obama, Netanyahu, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Molcho is scheduled to meet U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell in order to coordinate the summit's closing remarks, as well as discuss the planned speeches by Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Palestinian president at the opening ceremony.
On Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly told Likud ministers that he had not made any promises to president Obama or any other American government official regarding an extension of the settlement construction freeze in the West Bank.
"We made no proposals to the Americans on extending the freeze," Netanyahu said. "We said that the future of the communities will be discussed as one of the elements of a final-status settlement, along with the other issues. We promised nothing on this issue to the Americans."
Netanyahu sharply criticized the Palestinian demand for extending Israel's 10-month construction freeze, which expires September 26.
"They are building an entire city with our encouragement and then they are fighting with us over every house in Judea and Samaria," said Netanyahu. "The hiatus of construction prior to the cabinet resolution [approving the freeze] lasted 10 months, during which we called them for talks. Now, three weeks before the end of that time, they come to the talks and say that we must continue the building freeze. This raises questions about the seriousness of the Palestinians to enter talks in good faith. They are building an entire city and they fight with us over every home."