Sunday, August 22, 2010

Netanyahu: We can silence the doubters to reach historic peace

Israel and the Palestinians have a chance to surprise the world and strike a peace deal to end decades of conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

"We can surprise all the doubters," Netanyahu told ministers at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

"To all the skeptics I say that achieving peace is possible, but difficult,I welcome the invitation issued by the United States to launch direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions."

Netanyahu added," I have been calling for such talks since the government's establishment, a year and a half ago. I know there is a lot of doubt after 17 years, since the start of the Oslo process, and I can understand why it exists. We wish to calm the skeptics down, but in order to do so we need a real partner to reach out from the Palestinian side."

The prime minister went on to say that in order for the talks to bear fruit, concessions will be required on a variety of issues.

"Negotiations will require both sides to take moves. If there is such a partner, we could reach peace which will be based on three main levels: The first, real security arrangements in the State of Israel; the second, recognizing Israel as the Jewish people's state, including the right of return issue and the solution for the Palestinian refugees, which will be found in the future Palestinian state; and the third level, the establishment of the Palestinian state requires that it be demilitarized and end the conflict, so that it does not continue in any other way."

Netanyahu concluded by saying that "an agreement means ending the conflict. If these three layers exist, peace can be achieved."