Barak Ravid
February 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Quartet of Mideast peace mediators' envoy Tony Blair on Friday, ahead of the Quartet meet in Munich on Saturday.

At the end of the meeting Netanyahu is expected to present Blair with a package of confidence-building measures that Israel will propose to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to moderate a Quartet statement castigating Israel.

The Quartet of Mideast peace mediators ? the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia ? is meeting to discuss the stalemate in peace talks between Israel and the PA. They are expected to denounce Israel at the end of their meeting for continued construction in West Bank settlements.

Israel’s forum of seven senior ministers discussed the proposed gestures to the Palestinians last week. Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and minister Dan Meridor supported the gestures, while ministers Benny Begin, Moshe Ya’alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai objected.

The gestures are expected to consist of easing the blockade on Gaza, removing roadblocks in the West Bank and enabling the PA to take over land required to build the new town Rawabi.

Israel will also approve a number of infrastructure projects advanced by Quartet envoy Tony Blair in the West Bank and Gaza.

Sources close to the prime minister confirmed that Netanyahu was putting together a package of gestures ahead of the Quartet’s meeting but declined to give details.

Netanyahu began discussing the proposals with Blair last month. Blair, who recently visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, Barak and Shalom, urged the prime minister to publish details of the gestures before the Quartet’s meeting.

Due to its difficult international situation, Israel must do something, Blair says.

The American, Russian and European Union’s foreign ministers are to take part in the Quartet’s meeting in Munich to discuss the complete standstill in the peace talks. The talks would also touch on the U.S. administration’s apparent confusion about a solution to the crisis.

The Quartet’s closing statement is expected to support the World Bank’s prediction that the PA will complete setting up institutions in the coming months to enable it to establish a state.

The Americans have indicated to the European Union that they would not object to an especially harsh statement if the Europeans were the ones behind it, Jerusalem officials said.

Israel hopes the gestures would also encourage the Palestinians to reconsider their refusal to negotiate with Israel.


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