Netanyahu endorses Palestinian statehood

June 15th, 2009 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, June 15 (DPA) Israel Monday called on the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations immediately and without pre-conditions, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly endorsed the creation of a Palestine state.
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public endorsement of Palestinian statehood in a key policy speech late Sunday, “the ball is now in play”, his spokesman Mark Regev said.

Saying Israel was willing to resume talks immediately without any preconditions, he urged the Palestinians to do the same.

Since Netanyahu took office more than two months ago following elections, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not resume peace talks unless the new, hardline Israeli government meets two conditions: a public endorsement of Palestinian statehood and a settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu met the first condition, but not the second.

“I think we need to ask ourselves why haven’t we see a resumption of this dialogue. I think it is clear that it is the other side, not the Israeli side which is placing pre-conditions,” Regev told a news conference in Jerusalem.

“We haven’t seen these pre-conditions placed on previous Israeli governments - not on the Olmert government, not on the Sharon government, not on the Barak government.”

Palestinians fear that holding indefinite peace negotiations with the Netanyahu government, while settlement construction continues, would further fragment the West Bank territory.

The conditions listed by Netanyahu in his speech were not pre-conditions for talks, but rather “vital requirements to make these talks a success”, Regev stressed.

These included Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Netanyahu also said the Palestinian state should be demilitarised, and asked for international security guarantees.

Israel, noted the senior Netanyahu adviser, was waiting to hear the international community’s response regarding these security guarantees.

“I think we will be engaging with friends in Europe and North America in the coming days, in the coming weeks, and we are hopeful that such guarantees will be given.

“We are looking for workable, effective mechanisms that will prevent arms trafficking into the future Palestinian state,” he said, adding “this is based of course also on the experience with Gaza”.

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