Netanyahu to Palestinians: Give peace a chance

Sunday, June 09, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week made a strong plea to the Palestinian Authority leadership to rejoin genuine peace talks without preconditions.

"We are in favor of starting negotiations immediately without preconditions," Netanyahu said at a special Knesset session. Switching to English in order to directly address Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu added, "Give peace a chance."

Abbas and his supporters in the international community continue to claim that Netanyahu himself is the reason the peace process has stalled. But, as the Israeli leader noted, "In my three terms as Prime Minister I made quite a few tough decisions, and I'm ready to make tough decisions now as well, but not ones that endanger the security of the State of Israel."

As he as done for over a decade, Netanyahu stressed that achieving a genuine peace will also require compromise by the Palestinians.

Speaking to Israel Radio following Netanyahu's appearance, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said it is clear the Abbas regime simply has no interest in peace negotiations, considering the unreasonable preconditions it continues to put forward.

"Israel is ready and willing to resume direct peace talks at any moment, it can be done today, tomorrow, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, in Rome, anywhere in the world," said Elkin.

Abbas "hopes to continue the unilateral track as long as he thinks the international community supports it ... he has no reason to resume negotiations," Elkin continued, referring primarily to the United Nations' de facto recognition of "Palestine" last year despite the lack of a signed peace agreement with Israel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to the region next week in his fifth visit since assuming his current position earlier this year. It was widely reported last week that Kerry had put a time limit on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and that should that deadline not be met, Washington would likely turn its attention elsewhere.

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