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      Yechimovich Welcomes Resumption of Peace Talks

      Labor party will be there for Netanyahu against "right-wing" extremists," promises opposition leader.
      By Elad Benari, Canada
      First Publish: 7/19/2013, 10:41 PM

      Yechimovich and Netanyahu
      Yechimovich and Netanyahu
      Flash 90

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will resume was welcomed on Friday by opposition leader MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor).

      “The resumption of negotiations may have been the result of an American effort, but the interest is first and foremost ours,” she said.

      “This opens an important opportunity to finally move toward an agreement between us and the Palestinians,” said Yechimovich, adding, “We shouldn’t settle only for the resumption of negotiations, but do everything possible to work toward a real agreement.”

      She said, “You will recall that Prime Minister Netanyahu declared in a loud and clear voice that he supports the two-state solution. I wish him and us that he will make the right decisions to ensure the continued fulfillment of the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic Israel.

      “We will be there to support him against the right-wing extremists in his coalition,” said Yechimovich, repeating previous assurances that the Labor party will save the coalition if it begins to fall apart due to diplomatic negotiations.

      Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) told Channel 2 News on Friday that he hoped Kerry’s efforts to resume negotiations will succeed.

      "Yesh Atid and I and would like that to happen," Lapid said. "It is important to push for peace. It’s one of our goals and I hope that we are on our way toward a breakthrough."

      He added, "In the Middle East you do not sell your assets before negotiating. You do not go into negotiations by saying 'you won’t get anything.' That’s not how you conduct negotiations in the Middle East. There’s a solid majority in the government to go for negotiations. We’re not going to hold talks because the chairs are comfortable, we want real peace.”

      Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) also welcomed Kerry’s announcement, saying that his party “is in the government to move the peace process forward and will continue to support the government during the negotiations with the Palestinians for the chance of a better future for us and our children.”

      “This is another great opportunity that we must not miss,” said Peretz.

      According to Kerry’s announcement during a news conference in Amman, PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni would meet him in Washington "to begin initial talks within the next week or so."

      Kerry had spent four hours earlier on the phone talking to both sides before making the decision to dash to Ramallah to meet Abbas for the third time this week, reported AFP.

      The whirlwind diplomacy came after the PA leadership rejected Kerry's proposals for a framework to guide the relaunch of peace talks with the Israelis stalled for nearly three years.

      Livni welcomed the resumption of negotiations, writing on her Facebook page, “These were months of skepticism and cynicism. But now, four years of a diplomatic stalemate are about to end.

      “Alongside the opportunity I also know that the moment negotiations begin, it will be complicated and not easy,” she wrote. “But I'm certain with all my heart that it is the right thing for our future, our security, our economy and the values ​​of Israel. The Prime Minister deserves great appreciation for arriving at decisions that represent the best interests of Israel. Also, the determination of Secretary of State John Kerry led to the fact that we are entering negotiations.

      “Inside the negotiating room we will protect the State of Israel’s national and security interests as a Jewish and democratic state - I am obligated to that,” said Livni.

      (Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)