Monday, October 11, 2010

Netanyahu willing to extend the freeze in exchange for PA Recognition of Israel as The Jewish State

The Knesset opened its winter session on Monday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he would be willing to extend a construction freeze in West Bank settlements if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

"Unfortunately up until now the Palestinians have not responded to this call and the United States are searching for different ways to continue the talks".

"I made this message clear in quiet ways last month, and I am saying it here, now, in public: If the Palestinian leadership will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, I will be willing to gather my government and ask for another suspension of construction for a limited time".

"The US is making various suggestions and we are considering them seriously in relation to Israel's interests, first and foremost security and the promise of continued existence".

"The refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people and its historic connection to the place is the root of the conflict and without solving this, the conflict will never end. Regarding security, any peace agreement between ourselves and the Palestinians must be based on rigid security arrangements."

The prime minister also warned that while he hoped for the creation of a Palestinian state, only if it was created in a "responsible manner."

"A Palestinian state could be a cause of continued conflict and terror if it is not handled responsibly."

In his speech, Netanyahu also hinted at a comparison between Turkey and Iran, and Israel's concerns when it comes to the peace process:

In order for the compromise to lead to peace and not war, it must be accompanied by two fundamental components: recognition and security arrangements.

When I say recognition, I mean Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is not just stubbornness. This is the root of the conflict and therefore a central foundation for resolving it.

For 100 years, the Palestinians have taught entire generations to believe that there is no Jewish people, that this land is their homeland alone.

The refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people and its historic connection to its land is the root of the conflict, and without dealing with it, there will be no end to the conflict.

As to security, any peace agreement between the Palestinians and us must be based on strong security arrangements in the field.

We left Lebanon and Gaza without such security arrangements, and we suffered thousands of rockets fired at the Negev and the Galilee.

I am not willing to make do with peace on paper. The citizens of Israel are also not willing to make do with that.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from the end of the Second Lebanon War, withdrawal from the Philadelphi Route after the Disengagement, the positioning of international forces in the North and the South – none of these things prevented the firing of thousands of missiles at Israel, and the smuggling of tens of thousands of additional missiles by Iran into hostile territory surrounding us.

I will not allow Iranian missiles to be positioned 500 meters from Kfar Saba, or scant kilometers from Ben-Gurion Airport.

We live in a small country – very small. Our small dimensions pose existential security problems – problems that are unique to Israel.

We must not take these security problems too lightly, and we must not allow ourselves to be tempted by the illusion that a peace agreement, in and of itself, will resolve them.

We once had peaceful, normal relations, relations which included exchanges of delegations, contact between leaders, trade relations, especially of petroleum, with an important country. That country is called Iran.

We also had wonderful, friendly relations with another country, with military cooperation, with full diplomatic relations, with visits by heads of state, with 400,000 Israeli visitors to that country. That country is called Turkey.

I still we can rehabilitate and restore those relations, which have deteriorated against our will. Things have changed in Iran, and unfortunately in other places as well, almost overnight, and no one can promise us that, despite our desire, a similar thing won’t happen after the establishment of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Therefore we must insist on strong security arrangements in the field, with determination and without fear, in order to ensure that the peace will be upheld in practice, and also in order to defend our existence in the unfortunate but possible case that the peace is violated.

Peace and security are interwoven, and they are the principles which guide me. I firmly insist on the need for both of them, and I see that an understanding of our security needs has finally begun to penetrate international debate, beyond general statements. I speak of our specific needs. I believe, Members of Knesset, that if we stand together on this front, united around these principles, I am convinced it will help us achieve a peace agreement.

I believe that the unity surrounding these principles, which are so basic, so important and so real, can greatly advance our ability to achieve a peace agreement.