Israeli Finance Minister: We Can Do Without US Economic Aid


steinitzIsraeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz today lashed back at US special envoy George Mitchell for threatening to freeze loan guarantees given to Israel if the Jewish state failed to make progress in the┬ápeace process with the Palestinians.”We don’t have to use those guarantees. We are doing very well without them,” Steinitz said. He added that “only several months ago we agreed with the American Treasury Department and State Department on the guarantees for 2010and 2011, and there were no conditions.”

According to the finance minister, “Israel made and is making an effort which includes difficult gestures in a bid to resume the negotiations. I have no indication that we are going to be pressured with the guarantees.”

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar addressed Mitchell’s remarks as well. “When such statements are made in the way they were made, we must clarify that on the diplomatic level Israel will act in accordance with its vital interest without depending on its relations with other countries,” he said.

“I believe the American administration knows that the Palestinian Authority is the one preventing the peace talks by setting preconditions which were no set in the past. Israel has made tough and painful decisions while the Palestinians have not done anything. Israel will not accept preconditions for negotiations.”

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov defined Mitchell’s remarks as “a miserable slip of the tongue. I think he didn’t mean it. Qassam rockets are still landing on our territory, and these threats made by Mitchell do not contribute to moving this matter forward.”

At the start of today’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed a harsh message to the Hamas organization, saying he viewed the firing of rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip as “extremely severe.”

According to Netanyahu, “Some 20 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel last week. The IDF responded immediately and attacked rocket manufacturing facilities and tunnels used by Iran to smuggle rockets to Israel. The government’s policy is clear and any firing of rockets will be seriously retaliated.”

He also slammed the Palestinian Authority’s conduct. “Words constitute a weapon as well. The past few weeks have seen a retreat on this matter on the part of the Palestinian Authority. Those who support naming a square in Ramallah after a terrorist who killed dozens on Israel’s coastal highway support terror. Those who declare that the murderer of a father of seven is a shahid support terror,” the prime minister said.

“These serious acts violate an international commitment to thwart terror. I call on the Palestinians, stop the incitement. This is not the way to make peace.”

{Ynet/Yair Israel}