Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells foreign journalists at annual press conference with the foreign press, that only his government can ensure the support of the Israeli people for a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu appealed for direct negotiations with the Palestinians until an agreement is reached. He expressed pessimism, charging that the Palestinians have avoided peace talks.
"You want to negotiate peace, sit down and negotiate, There is no other way to achieve peace."
"I believe that if I bring a peace agreement ... I will bring the support of the Israeli public. I'm the only prime minister who can deliver that. But the Palestinians are walking away from that."
"2011 would reveal who is seriously interested in peace in the region.”
“What is preventing the advent of peace negotiations is that the Palestinians are doing everything in their power to avoid them, This is the simple truth.”
The prime minister spoke against what he said was the conventional wisdom – that the Palestinian Authority wanted peace, while he and his government were not interested – saying that while Israel had taken a number of steps to further the process along, the Palestinians had done nothing.
Netanyahu enumerated the steps he has taken: calling for direct negotiations; removing hundreds of West Bank roadblocks to allow the economy there to flourish; accepting the two-state vision in his speech at Bar-Ilan University; agreeing to a 10-month settlement freeze; and then agreeing to another three-month freeze after negotiating the conditions with the Americans.
The reason this additional freeze did not go into effect, he said, was not because there was no agreement with the US, but because the US decided that the additional freeze would do nothing to move the process forward.