Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday that attempts to impose an accord with the Palestinians through UN resolutions would “fail.”
Meanwhile, the French top diplomat, on a visit to the region, warned that without a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, the Middle East could “explode.”
France has said it would propose a resolution in the United Nations Security Council with a framework for negotiations toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian officials and French diplomats said the UN proposal would call for basing the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state on the lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, as well as the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005. It also would set a two-year deadline for an agreement. Israel rejects a return to its pre-1967 lines, saying they are indefensible.
“Mr. Foreign Minister, peace will only come from direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions. It will not come from UN resolutions that are sought to be imposed from the outside,” Netanyahu said in a joint press conference with Fabius in Jerusalem.
The prime minister maintained that there was no “magic shortcut” to peace, and charged that the Palestinians were avoiding direct talks with the Jewish state in the false belief that they could attain statehood without negotiating and compromising with Israel.
“Last year, the Palestinians slammed the door on Secretary Kerry’s framework for negotiations. They slammed the door on prime minister Barak. They slammed the door on prime minister Sharon. They slammed the door on prime minister Olmert. They slammed the door on me,” said Netanyahu. “They attempt to impose terms on Israel, but they will fail. And this attempt will not merely fail, it will drive peace away. First, Israel will resist the imposition of terms from the outside. And second, the Palestinians will never agree to negotiate if they think the international community will give them what they want without negotiations.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “wants to avoid the give-and-take of negotiations,” Netanyahu continued. “And why does he go that route? Because even though the Palestinians ran away from the negotiations again and again and again, it is Israel that is being blamed.”
The prime minister said that Israel was willing to enter direct talks, and reiterated the demand that negotiations address Israel’s security concerns and mandate Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
“A peace that isn’t anchored in iron-clad security arrangements on the ground, in which Israel can defend itself, such a peace will simply not survive and we will not agree to it,” Netanyahu said.
Earlier, Fabius met with Abbas.
“We must both guarantee Israel’s security and at the same time give Palestinians the right to have a state,” Fabius told journalists at a joint news conference with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki in Ramallah.
“The most important thing for us is again to seek peace and security and the necessity to have two states,” Fabius said. “Let’s take the lessons from the past and try to move forward.”
Fabius said he met recently with Egypt’s president and Jordan’s king and “they both told me the same thing, there is a great concern that if things continue to be frozen like this, then an explosion could happen.”
During the press conference with Netanyahu, Fabius also said any nuclear deal with Iran must be verifiable. He spoke as he prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart this week with a deadline looming for an agreement.
“We think that we must be extremely firm and that, if an agreement is to be reached, that agreement must be robust,” Fabius told journalists.
“That means that it must be able to be verified.”
European foreign ministers were scheduled to meet their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, ahead of a June 30 deadline for an international accord on Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran and the P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — agreed in April on the main outlines of what would be a historic agreement scaling down Tehran’s nuclear program. The world powers and Iran set themselves the deadline of June 30 to finalize what would be a highly complex accord, and negotiators have been meeting regularly in Vienna and elsewhere in recent weeks.
AFP contributed to this report.