The official guidelines of the new Netanyahu government as presented to the Knesset last week stress a desire for peace with the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors, while safeguarding Israel’s security and national interests.
“The Jewish people have the indisputable right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, its national and historic homeland,” the document read. “The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests.”
Netanyahu vowed that any agreement reached during his time in office will before being signed be submitted to the entire Knesset for approval.
Late last week, Netanyahu appointed Likud veteran Silvan Shalom to head up talks with the Palestinians, and reiterated his hope for a renewal of peace negotiations in the very near future.
Meanwhile, Israel Radio quoted Palestinian Authority officials as saying they had already determined that Netanyahu himself is not interested in peace, and so will not even bother to meet with Silvan Shalom.
The Palestinian leadership continues to demand a number of preconditions be met before it will even entertain returning to the negotiating table.
The Palestinians are also upset by Netanyahu’s declaration on Jerusalem Day earlier this week that the ancient city will never again be divided. The Palestinian Authority insists that it will never sign a peace agreement that doesn’t include control over the eastern half of Jerusalem.