Steinitz answers Mitchell: We'll manage without guarantees

"Israel has made every effort to renew negotiations."

Israel can manage without US loan guarantees, Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz said to day in response to US special envoy George Mitchell's threat to cut the guarantees unless there is progress in the peace process.

"We don’t need to use these guarantees, we're getting along fine," Steinitz said at today's cabinet meeting.

Ministry of Finance sources said that the US loan guarantees enable Israel to obtain a higher credit rating, which lowers the interest paid on debt. However, Israel has not needed to resort to the guarantees to repay loans.

Steinitz added, "Only a few months ago, we reached an agreement with the US Department of the Treasury and Department of State on the loan guarantees for 2010 and 2011. There were no conditions attached. Israel has made, and continues to make, every effort, including difficult gestures, to renew the negotiations. We haven’t received any indication that the guarantees will be used to pressure us."

Minister of Education and Culture Gideon Saar added, "When we're told such things, in the way that they're said, we should make clear that as far as the peace talks are concerned, Israel will act on the basis of its vital interests, and not as a function of its relations with another country.

Saar said that, in his opinion, "The US administration knows that it's the Palestinian Authority that is preventing peace talks by placing prior conditions that did not exist before. Israel has made hard and painful decisions while the Palestinians have done nothing. Israel will not accept prior conditions to the negotiations."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on January 10, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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