Sunday, January 3, 2010

Netanyahu denies bending on key issues; Everything will be discussed at peace talks

(via Jpost).Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a closed door meeting on Sunday he has no intention of restarting negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of the pre-Six Day War lines, throwing cold water on Palestinian claims to the contrary.

The prime minister also characterized as inaccurate media reports that he has recently shown flexibility regarding negotiations over Jerusalem and refugees.

In Sunday's meeting, according to a government source, Netanyahu reiterated his position that the negotiations with the Palestinians should begin without preconditions, and that once they began, everything could be discussed.

But, the official said, Netanyahu said that the idea that he was somehow accepting Palestinian positions on issues such as the pre-June 5, 1967, lines, refugees and Jerusalem just to enable negotiations was "simply not true."

According to Netanyahu, the Palestinians' current position was that Israel should accept their positions, and then the negotiations could take place.

"That is not going to happen," he said.

A source in Netanyahu's office denied this. Regarding the issue of the 1967 lines, the source said the prime minister had made clear frequently that those lines were indefensible, and that he had not changed his opinion.

Netanyahu's position is that the pre-1967 lines are not the starting point for talks, but that the reference point should be secure and defensible borders for Israel.

If that is the jumping-off point, diplomatic officials explained, then it was not a given that Israel would have to exchange land at a 1:1 ratio, as former prime minister Ehud Olmert was nearly willing to do in the offer he made to Abbas in the fall of 2008.