Sunday, July 5, 2009

Netanyahu on first 100 days achievements: We delivered consensus on two-state solution

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that the government has won "broad national consensus" in Israel for the concept of a two-state solution, hailing it as a major achievement of his 100-day-old coalition.

But the prime minister also lashed out at his detractors, opening the weekly meeting by saying that not only did his government not get a customary 100 days of grace, he in fact had not received "a single day of grace."

Netanyahu outlined the achievements of his government so far, placing at the head of the list the "establishment of a unity government," because of which he has "achieved a wide national consensus on the idea of two states for two peoples."

For the past two decades, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has been based on the concept of two states peacefully existing side by side. In the run-up to his election earlier this year and in the weeks immediately after he took office, Netanyahu drew fire for his reluctance to pledge his support for Palestinian statehood. In a speech last month, however, the prime minister said that he backed a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Netanyahu said Sunday that the infusion of "real meaning" into the two-state solution was one of the most important achievements of his government so far.

"The Palestinians will have no choice but to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the [Palestinian] refugees issue will be resolved outside of Israel, and Israel will be entitled to defensible borders with full demilitarization of the Palestinian state," he said.

He also listed to other achievements - "quiet in southern Israel and power of deterrence."

"I have ordered that Israel respond to every rocket, and that is what is happening," Netanyahu told his ministers, referring to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel's southern towns.

"I cannot say we have had a 100-day grace period, or even one day of grace, but thank god we are not complaining. The main achievement is the national unity government. We have formed national unity both in terms of the economy and in terms of having one policy," Netanyahu concluded.