Netanyahu, U.S. Security Adviser meet on Iran, Mideast peace
Netanyahu tells James Jones: Gaza border crossings won't open until Gilad Shalit is free.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones in Jerusalem Wednesday evening, for a private meeting on Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Iranian threat and other issues relating to promoting Middle East peace.
Netanyahu told Jones that Israel would not fully open the Gaza border crossings until captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was released.
Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a June 2006 cross-border raid. Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for Shalit's freedom.
Jones was in Israel for briefings related to Iran's nuclear program, in the midst of a week of intense U.S.-Israeli diplomacy.
General Jones heard updates from several senior Israeli security officials, before meeting with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu briefed Jones on the easing of restrictions on Palestinians Israel has implemented, saying that unlike in Gaza, where restrictions will be eased only for humanitarian cases, Israel sought to ease the lives of the Palestinians living in the West Bank as much as possible.
The national security adviser landed in Israel on Tuesday, heading a 15-member delegation of top U.S. officials who also deal with Iran, including special State Department adviser Dennis Ross and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.
He arrived on the heels of U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who were in the region earlier this week.
While Mitchell discussed the disagreement over Israeli settlement construction and efforts to move toward a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Gates' talks in Jerusalem Monday also focused on Iran.
Gates' and Jones' separate visits come amid ever rising speculation over whether Israel intends to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
The hard-line Netanyahu government, which took office four months ago following elections on February 10, has declared preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons a top priority.
Israel says it prefers much tougher international sanctions, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated after his talks with Gates Monday that the military option had not been taken off the table.