Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that European calls and efforts to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state have only pushed peace further away.
“I think that the calls that have been coming from European countries, from European parliaments, to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state pushed peace backwards,” he said at a press conference in Jerusalem with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“[These calls] don’t tell the Palestinian Authority that they will have to make genuine compromises and take seriously Israel’s legitimate security concerns. They merely award the Palestinians a prize without asking them at all to make the concessions that are necessary for a genuine peace,” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister went to to say that a negotiated peace was possible only with compromises from both sides.
Netanyahu also reasserted his belief that a nuclear Iran poses a threat to international security and warned against a deal that would see the lifting of sanctions on Tehran. The P5+1 world powers and Iran have set a target date of November 24 to reach an agreement.
Steinmeier said he hoped negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would resume as soon as possible, since “returning to the status quo after the last Gaza war [this past summer] is not sufficient.”
“We must step forward and hopefully we have very soon conditions that the negotiations are being able to be continued. There is a need for security and we understand the security concerns here in Israel and perspective for peace,” he went on.
The German FM stressed that there was “no other way as to reach this situation of respecting the needs for security on the one side and developing a perspective for peace in the long-run, beside and beyond negotiations.”
Steinmeir seemed to indicate that Germany also believed the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state was not helpful.
“Unilateral activities are not creating the ground, the atmosphere, in which perhaps another approach, another initiative from our American friends will be successful,” he said.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed spectacularly in late April after a nine-month, US-brokered effort. The two sides have traded blame for the failure while the US has, unofficially, placed considerable blame on continued settlement activity and on Netanyahu.
Earlier this month, several European nations reportedly told US officials that they were seriously considering unilaterally recognizing Palestine as a state, as Sweden did last month, if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians do not resume.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, these countries include some of the US’s closest allies. The report did not specify which, however.
The Palestinians, for their part, are set to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council later this month calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, a senior official said.
Last month, Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, making it the first major European Union member state to back Ramallah’s statehood bid in this way.
Also last month, London’s Parliament voted to urge the British government to recognize a Palestinian state.
French lawmakers are set to vote on a proposal by the Socialist Party urging the government to recognize Palestine as a state on November 28.