Monday, November 9, 2009

Netanyahu to Abbas:Let's seize the moment to reach a historic agreement...Let's begin talks immediately...

"My goal is not negotiations for the sake of negotiations; My goal is to achieve a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, and soon. I cannot be more emphatic on this point."

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday addressed thousands of North American Jews at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, where he urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to relaunch peace talks immediately.

"We should not place preconditions for holding talks, such preconditions have never been set in 16 years," Netanyahu said, referring to the Palestinian demand that Israel completely halt construction in West Bank settlements before talks can resume.

"No Israeli government has been so willing to restrain settlement activity as part of an effort to relaunch peace talks," addressing Abbas by name and saying "let us seize the moment, let us relaunch peace talks immediately."

"But to get to a peace agreement we need to start negotiating," he said to a receptive crowd. "Let's get on with it. Let's move."

"Peace between Israel and its neighbors could spare our children the horrors of war,Peace could also usher in a new era of tremendous economic progress for the benefit of everyone in the Middle East. I think people are beginning to see that we are eager to achieve peace with our neighbors, especially the Palestinians."

"My goal is not negotiations for the sake of negotiations. My goal is to achieve a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians - and soon," Netanyahu declared.

Referring to the Palestinian demand in previous rounds of peace talks that Israel grant Palestinian refugees from around the world the right of return to the homes in Israel from which they were expelled, Netanyahu stressed that "the Palestinians must recognize that the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees is gone.They must declare that the conflict is finally over. It will take years for the spirit of peace to permeate levels of Palestinian society," he added.

"We're willing to make great concessions for peace but there is something I will never compromise on, and that is Israels security. We have to ensure that weapons do not flow into the West Bank - we cannot permit another Gaza in the heart of our country. What we want is durable peace."

Netanyahu also addressed the issue of the recent vote at the United Nations General Assembly on a UN-sponsored report which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza last winter. The Goldstone report was adopted by the 192-member General Assembly in by a vote of 114-18. Netanyahu thanks the U.S. for voting against the resolution that called for the Goldstone findings to be "credibly and independently" investigated. He thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for "resolutely opposing this twisted UN resolution."

The prime minister went on to applaud the U.S. Congress vote, which preceded the UN debate, for condemning the "biased report."

Netanyahu began his address by saying that the Jews had brought "at least three big ideas to civilization: monotheism, the belief that all people have innate rights that transcend the power of kings, and the vision of universal peace."

His speech was briefly interrupted by protesters against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter, but the prime minister didn't break his stride and quickly resumed his address, saying "I was better received at the UN."

The prime minister then addressed the Jewish communities outside Israel, saying that "strengthening Jewish identity can no longer be the task of Diaspora Jews, it is increasingly the responsibility of the Jewish state."

"Only a strong Israel can achieve peace," he went on to say. "A small Israel demands a secure peace."