Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to discuss peace with the Palestinians, but offered no concessions. He demanded that the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in return. Netanyahu made the statement at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the US leading Israel-lobby organization.
US Foreign Minister Kerry has been trying to build a framework for peace between Israel en the Palestinians for months. Israel insists there will be no peace deal without Palestinian recognition of Israel. "It's time the Palestinians stop denying history. Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state" Netanyahu said. Top Palestinian official Nabil Shaath, on the other hand, said Netanyahu's demands for such recognition, and his insistence on keeping Israeli troops deployed in a future Palestinian state is "totally rejected".
Netanyahu referred to the opportunities the peace deal would bring for the region, including the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and the leading countries of the Arab world. "Peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships" he said.
Monday, at the White House
Earlier this week Netanyahu visited the White House. Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama that he would not compromise on the security of his country, referring to Iran. "Iran calls openly for Israel's destruction, so I'm sure you'll appreciate that Israel cannot permit such a state to have the ability to make atomic bombs to achieve that goal […] And I, as the prime minister of Israel, will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state". Nethanyahu insisted Tehran must completely dismantle the Uranium enrichment centrifuges, a position that is at odds with Obama's suggestion that Iran, could be allowed to enrich uranium on a limited basis and only for civilian purposes.
Obama also urged Netanyahu to make tough decisions to help salvage the faltering US-brokered peace process. Obama said “It is still possible to create two states, a Jewish state and a state of Palestine, but it’s difficult and it requires compromise on all sides”. Netanyahu said Israel did all it could and blamed the Palestinians for the faltering peace process: “Israel has been doing its part and I regret to say that the Palestinians have not”. So, the two leaders were unable to reach an agreement. The president of the National Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet President Obama on 17 march.
Whilst the White House claims US relations with Israel are as good as ever, Secretary of State John Kerry has set a late April target for an elusive final accord in the peace process he is trying to clinch.
Sorces: Al Arabya, Al Jazeera, BBC, the Guardian I, the Guardian II, Reuters.
Author: Koen Migchelbrink