Netanyahu: Peace with Palestinians necessary to avoid binational state (ISRAEL HAYOM) Shlomo Cesana and The Associated Press 04/04/12)
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"My interest is what´s good for Israel and I have no desire to head
toward a binational state, a situation I oppose. I´ve offered
compromises in the past, compromises whose meaning is a relinquishing
of land," Netanyahu says PM´s comments come as the international
Quartet prepares to meet on April 11 over ways to restart the
deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to meet Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for peace talks without
preconditions to avoid the possibility of Israel becoming a
binational state, the Israeli leader said on Tuesday.
"There have been five prime ministers before me who offered proposals
that the Palestinians have rejected. I am the sixth. The Palestinians
and Mahmoud Abbas are not prepared to agree to even the most minimal
of compromises," Netanyahu said at a press conference at the Prime
Minister´s Office on Tuesday evening, marking three years of his
Netanyahu scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem next week. Fayyad will deliver a letter
from PA President Mahmoud Abbas setting out the Palestinian position
for a resumption of peace talks.
According to Palestinian sources, the letter is expected to include
resuming talks on the basis of the 1967 borders, an immediate halt to
Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem, and the
release of Palestinian political prisoners, including those jailed
during the Second Intifada.
The meeting with Fayyad, and Netanyahu´s comments come as the
international Quartet the U.S., U.N., Russia and the EU prepare
to meet on April 11 over ways to restart the deadlocked Israeli-
Palestinian peace process. Netanyahu met with Quartet envoy Tony
Blair on Sunday and with U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
David Hale on Tuesday ahead of the Quartet meeting.
Reacting to reports that Abbas is preparing a letter blaming the
Israeli prime minister for the stalled peace process, Netanyahu said
he would be happy to meet with the Palestinian leader and receive his
"I intend to respond to his letter also," Netanyahu said. "The
Palestinian issue has not been neglected. I am prepared to resume
negotiations immediately. My interest is what´s good for Israel, and
I have no desire to head toward a binational state, a situation I
oppose. I´ve offered compromises in the past, compromises whose
meaning is a relinquishing of land. For as long as it depends on me,
we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel."
The statement was notable because it in effect concedes a key
argument made by Netanyahu´s ideological opponents on Israel´s
Zionist left: A pullout from territories the Palestinian claim for a
state is not just a concession that could be made in exchange for
peace, but also an imperative for an Israel that wants to remain a
Jewish state that is also democratic.
Jews make up roughly 80 percent of Israel´s almost 8 million people.
However, if Israel is combined with Judea and Samaria (the West
Bank), the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem the lands it took over in
the 1967 Six-Day War then the Arab population nears parity, and in
the view of some demographers is likely to become a majority soon.
Indeed, as the prospect of peace seems to grow more remote, voices on
the Palestinian side increasingly predict as a threatened default
rather than a desired outcome a "one-state solution" in which Jews
and Arabs have equal status.
"The existence of a Jewish state is not just a matter of separation"
from the Palestinians, Netanyahu said Tuesday. "It´s a matter of
security, preserving our basic national interests, and this requires
"It is the Palestinians and not we who chose not to hold negotiations
over three years," he said. "I hope they change their minds in the
coming months. We are ready and prepared to hold negotiations."
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