The office of Likud Party and Knesset opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday clarified that if elected prime minister in Israel's upcoming general election, he will halt the current land-for-peace process with the Palestinians, despite reports this week to the contrary.
Netanyahu spokeswoman Dina Libster confirmed to the Associated Press what the Likud leader had told London's Financial Times last month: that he plans to put territorial negotiations on hold and focus on helping the Palestinians stabilize and grow their economy.
Libster said Netanyahu views the land-for-peace negotiations that have been going on for over 15 years, and accelerated over the past year by US President George W. Bush, as a dismal failure.
"Netanyahu does not want to halt talks, but he believes it's premature to talk about a final peace deal, and sharing control of Jerusalem is out of the question," Libster said.
She noted that the Palestinians regularly point to their economic plight source of their terrorist tendencies, and so obviously that situation must be remedied before any viable agreement on other issues can be reached.
Earlier this week Israeli media reported that Netanyahu had apparently backtracked on his peace process policy after meeting with and coming under pressure from international peace envoy Tony Blair and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.