The end goal of a deal with the Palestinians is to prevent a binational state and provide security for Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in his first meeting with the Foreign Ministry’s top officials since taking office in March.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict didn’t start in 1967 nor with the construction of the first settlements, Netanyahu told the assembly.
“The root of the conflict is not Yitzhar, Haifa, Acre, Jaffa or Ashkelon,” Netanyahu said, alluding to the murder of Yitzhar settlement resident Evyatar Borowsky who was stabbed to death Tuesday by a Palestinian in the West Bank, as well as to the demand of some Palestinians to establish a state that spans from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. “The purpose of the future agreement with the Palestinians is to prevent the eventuality of a binational state and to guarantee stability and security.”
The root of the conflict, he said, was the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the Jews’ right to a country.
Israel, while perfectly willing to sit down to talks, “has to make sure that, at the end of the negotiations, it will be clear it is the end of the conflict and Palestinian demands, and that there is recognition for our nation state,” he said.
“It’s not about a Palestinian state, it’s about a Jewish state,” Netanyahu, who is serving as acting foreign minister, told the ministry officials.
In a meeting with a delegation of senior members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee later in the day, Netanyahu said that Israel is “eager” to sign a peace deal but must ensure two basic pillars: “one is that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and second that Israel has solid security arrangements. We’re prepared to discuss many things, but I will never compromise on Israel’s security,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich called on Netanyahu to endorse the Arab League’s peace initiative, which was amended and restated Tuesday in Washington.
Israel and the Palestinians seemed closer Tuesday night than at any time over the past few years to a resumption of substantive peace negotiations, after both sides indicated satisfaction with the apparently American-brokered amendment to the Arab League’s longstanding framework for regional peace.
Yachimovich pledged to support and possibly join Netanyahu’s coalition if its right flank moved to pull out over an imminent agreement with the Palestinians.
Addressing the turmoil and instability in the region, the prime minister told the Foreign Ministry officials that only the IDF could provide Israel with the security it needs. Not even an international peacekeeping force would suffice in that regard, as “a peace agreement doesn’t necessarily bring security,” he said.
Also in his speech, the prime minister said he wanted to focus greater diplomatic efforts on outreach to American Latinos. He also said he intended to focus on bolstering ties with China — which he’s scheduled to visit next week. He made no mention of ongoing reconciliation talks with Turkey or the Syrian civil war.