US to work with new Israeli government towards Mideast peace

February 21st, 2009 - 2:39 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 21 (DPA) The US remains optimistic about achieving peace in the Middle East, regardless of what Israeli government coalition emerges from elections held this month, the State Department said Friday.
Spokesman Gordon Duguid, reacting to the news that Benjamin Netanyahu was tasked with forming the next Israeli government, also said Israel would continue to be a close ally of the US.

“The United States is a longstanding and firm ally of Israel. We will work with the next Israeli government, however it is composed, and we’ll move on from there to work on bilateral and regional issues together,” Duguid said.

Netanyahu’s hardline Likud Party won 27 of the 120 Knesset seats in the Feb 10 election, one fewer than the centrist Kadima party of Tzipi Livni.

Israeli President Shimon Peres Friday chose Netanyahu to form a government because it was believed he has the best chance of putting together a stable coalition.

That government could include a number of right-wing parties that made gains in the elections and have voiced skepticism about ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians, though Netanyahu is pushing for a broad coalition with Livni’s Kadima.

“We are always optimistic” about Middle East peace, Duguid said when asked about Israel’s apparent political shift to the right.

“We’ve been working on the peace process for a number of years. I think this shows determination by the United States to continue to work for a two-state solution in the Middle East and to help bring stability to the region,” he said.

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