by RAY FLEMING

THERE was welcome news of progress in the Isaeli-Palestinian situation yesterday. Not from Barack Obama, of course, who was engaged on other matters, but from the Israeli cabinet minister Avishay Braverman, a leading member of the Labor Party which is part of Mr Netanyahu's coalition government. Mr Braverman urged the early resumption of serious negotiations for four or five months and said that if they begin Labor will stay in the cabinet but if they do not Labour will leave.

Mr Braverman is not the leader of Labor but he wants to be when the next party elections are held and his remarks should be seen in that light. A Labor withdrawal would probably bring down the government. Two points stood out from what Mr Braverman had to say. First, that a settlement should be reached based on the 2002 Arab Union peace initiative proposals which neither Israeli nor the United States has ever taken seriously despite their comprehensive provisions; second that Netanyahu must stop appeasing his foreign minister Lieberman who “is harming Israel's reputation in the world and damaging the state”. Braverman added: “I don't know another country in the world where the foreign minister speaks against the government policy”. I have not heard foreign policy mentioned in any of Barack Obama's speeches or interviews for today's mid-term elections, but he must return to the Israeli-Palesinian issue as soon as possible before it gets out of control.

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