Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Netanyahu to Israel Hayom: Peace within a year, if Abbas meets us for negotiations

(Shlomo Cesana-Israelhayom).Peace could be achieved in less than a year if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to restart negotiations with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel Hayom in a wide ranging Rosh Hashanah interview on Tuesday.
“We can reach an agreement in less than a year, if we have a Palestinian partner willing to make compromises and achieve peace. The real test is if Abbas joins us at the negotiating table."
In the full interview Netanyahu said the Quartet proposal for the renewal of negotiations was workable, but he doubted Abbas' willingness to strike a deal that would lead to peace:
“Abbas needs to decide if he is going to lead his people to peace or not. He disappointed me in his address to the U.N. He took a step backwards."
Netanyahu views the past week's diplomatic events as a success for Israel:
“The trip [to the U.N.] was successful, and the [Palestinian] bid was thwarted. I stated Israel's truth on the U.N. podium, and brought home some significant political and diplomatic achievements. My main achievement was political -- there was no declaration of a Palestinian state in September.”
About Israel's relationship with the U.S., Netanyahu said:
“Contrary to what commentators say, we have a very close relationship with the U.S. Every U.S. president so far has reflected the overwhelming support Americans have expressed for Israel.”
Netanyahu believes that Israelis are not sufficiently aware of the extent of support for Israel among the American public:
“On Saturday, I went with my wife to Central Park, Both Jews and non-Jews came up to me and expressed support in a way that is impossible to describe. I didn’t hear any other voice. Everyone expressed tremendous support for the state of Israel.

“The things that I believe in -- recognition of us as a Jewish state and an insistence on meeting our security needs -- are warmly received in the U.S. People respect those who insist on defending the rights of their nation and the interests of their country. My speech at the U.N. was a uniting factor. Although it was assertive, it also extended a hand to peace."
On Turkey, Netanyahu said:
“I don't know if Turkey will ever return to what it was for us in the past. Turkey decided to embark on a new path. I believe we shouldn't bow our heads before its unjustified attacks. Doing so does not strengthen us, not in the eyes of our friends, and not in the eyes of our enemies. In my view, we have not yet given up on Turkey, unless Turkey has given up on us.”