I will build peace through Palestinian prosperity: Netanyahu

December 19th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Dec 19 (DPA) The best strategy to make peace in the Mideast is to encourage the rapid economic development of the Palestinian people, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview published Friday in the French daily Le Figaro.Asked if he agreed with the withdrawal of Israel from most of the West Bank, the leader of the hardline Likud party said: “The method that consists in withdrawing from territories without concessions has only led to bringing Islamist movements linked to Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas into Gaza.”

His party “cannot accept” the West Bank becoming a base for attacking Israel, said Netanyahu, who is broadly favoured to win the next general elections, scheduled for Feb 10.

Likud’s plan for peace is “to support the emergence of a credible partner and reinforce the moderate Palestinians,” he said. “For that, conditions must be created for rapid economic development.”

The plan, Netanyahu said, is based on the idea “that economic prosperity leads to a political resolution, and not the reverse. I base it on the examples of Northern Ireland and Cyprus”.

Netanyahu also said that, if he becomes prime minister after the February election, he would invite members of Israeli opposition parties to join his government.

“I made a mistake in 1996 in refusing to have (current Israeli President) Shimon Peres enter my government,” he said. “This time we need a government of national unity to confront three enormous challenges: the economic tsunami, Iran and its allies… and finally to obtain a satisfactory peace with the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu was in Paris Thursday for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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