Sunday, November 15, 2009

Netanyahu: Palestinians, Israel mustn't waste time; If Palestinians act unilaterally, so will Israel

(Haaretz, AP).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the path to peace in the Middle East was at the negotiating table, but said he was not interested in "negotiating for the sake of negotiations."

The prime minister emphasized that negotiations must begin at once, in good faith between the two sides. There was no point in wasting time, he said.

The negotiations would not be easy, he said, and would have to cover sensitive topics. Israeli leaders must be brave of heart to see this go forth, he said, but so too must the Palestinians.

The negotiations must cover the security situation, he added, citing three central challenges that must be addressed in ordered to achieve peace.

First of all, he said, Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Second of all, Israel must find a way to fight the threat of rockets.

And third, he said, Israel's right to exist must be accepted.

Netanyahu rejected Palestinian officials declaration that they are preparing to ask the United Nations to endorse an independent state without Israel's consent, warning Israel would retaliate.

"There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said. "Any unilateral action would only unravel the framework of agreements between us and can only lead to one-sided steps on the part of Israel." He did not elaborate further.