1967 Lines a Source of Strain in Israeli-Palestinian Talks, Palestinians Urge EU to Stick with Settlement Boycott


east-jerusalemSigns of strain emerged Monday around the nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as a senior Palestinian official said Secretary of State John Kerry had “guaranteed us in writing” that negotiations would start from the 1967 lines, and American officials suggested he was not telling the truth.

Nabil Shaath said the Palestinians had agreed to enter the talks only because of the guarantee, but American officials denied there was such a document.

Egyptian Tanks, Helicopters Push through Sinai

Meanwhile, Egyptian troops and tanks backed by helicopter gunships swept through villages in northern Sinai near the border with Gaza on Monday, the third day of a major offensive against Islamic extremists, a military official said. So far, 20 suspected militants have been killed and 20 captured in the operation. Mustafa Hegazy, a political adviser to Egypt’s interim president, told the Egyptian TV station Al-Hayat that under Morsi’s rule, the number of militants in Sinai had jumped to 7,000.
On Sunday, Ansar Jerusalem, an al-Qaeda-inspired militant group, claimed responsibility for last week’s failed assassination attempt on Egyptian Interior Minister Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, describing the Cairo attack as a “suicide” car bomb.

Israel: Egypt Fighting Serious Battle Against Sinai Terror

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the head of the Israel Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau, told a conference at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Sunday that the Egyptian military is now waging a determined battle against terrorism in Sinai, sparked by Islamic militants’ attacks on Egyptian forces.

“Israel is not connected to this struggle, which stems from internal conclusions that have been made by the Egyptians. It was once possible to smuggle Iranian weapons in Sinai to Hamas, but today it is very difficult to do that,” he said. “It is very important that the Egyptians are carrying out a broad campaign against terror, and what they are doing is impressive.”

Amos Gilad: Strong Arab Sunni Bloc Doesn’t See Israel as Enemy

A powerful Middle Eastern axis of Sunni states has taken form in the region, which “does not view Israel as a sworn enemy” and has successfully kept extremist jihadi terrorism at bay,” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad said Sunday. Gilad described Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a leader whom “history will remember,” noting that the Muslim Brotherhood has not swerved from its ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction and to toppling all of the region’s regimes.

Palestinian officials expressed concern on Monday that the EU would rescind its policy of banning cooperation with Israeli entities located beyond the pre-1967 lines. The EU dispatched a team to Israel this week in an effort to assuage concerns over its funding ban. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was pressuring the EU to revoke, postpone, or “water down” an EU decision on the matter.

IDF Sees Increase in West Bank Terror Cells

The past year has seen an increase in planning and setting up cells for terror attacks in the West Bank, Binyamin Regional Brigade Commander Col. Yossi Pinto said Monday. “There is a rise in the quality of the infrastructure and the planning [of terror attacks].”

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}