Even as sources around Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continue to say he
plans to launch a new diplomatic initiative, Netanyahu has given no public
indication of what he has in mind, or when – and even if – he will make such a
Instead, in meetings with foreign dignitaries, he has not been
giving any details of a plan, and during a press opportunity on Sunday with
visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, he again called on the Palestinians
to enter negotiations, and challenged the international community to deal with
Iran with as much determination as it was showing in dealing with Libya’s
Muammar Gaddafi. He gave no indication, however, that he was on the cusp of a
Abbas calls for full Palestinian membership in the UN
“We are prepared to sit down and negotiate peace,”
Netanyahu said. “And the Palestinians have found a variety of excuses not to do
Government officials said Netanyahu wants to make clear that he is
not in favor of unilateral action, and would much rather negotiate a final
agreement with the Palestinians.
However, if the Palestinians continue to
reject calls to enter negotiations, he is laying the groundwork for saying that
a continued Palestinian refusal means that Israel will have no choice but to
initiate a plan of its own – a plan that will surely fall well short of
Standing alongside Pinera, whose Chile was one
of nine South American countries to recognize a Palestinian state in the past
few months, Netanyahu said that ultimately the only way to reach an agreement
was through negotiations.
“It cannot be imposed from the outside,” he
said. “It must be done through the negotiations of the parties. We stand ready
to negotiate; we hope our Palestinian partners will respond in
Pinera, whom Netanyahu characterized as a “great friend,” said
Chile recognized a Palestinian state because just as Chile believes Israel has
the right to live within secure borders “in order to be able to develop itself
and increase the quality of life of its people,” it also believes “the
Palestinians have right to have their own state, a free state, democratic
Chile and Peru did not recognize the 1967 lines as the borders of
that state, as was done by Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela,
Suriname and Guyana, but rather said that the boundaries needed to be
“When we recognized the Palestinian state, we made it very
clear that the best way to reach a strong, secure, durable peace is by direct
talks between the two countries.
Because, if they reach an agreement,
then peace will be built over rock and not over sand,” Pinera
Netanyahu said the Palestinians have not responded to a variety of
steps his government has taken, from calling for direct negations to removing
hundreds of checkpoints and barriers to agreeing to a 10- month settlement
moratorium, and “then an extension of that moratorium by three
The Palestinians, he said, were instead trying to “go around the
I’ll tell you why, because peace is hard. It’s been
hard for me. It will be hard.
You have to make concessions and you have
to look at the people in the eye and tell them not everything that we’d hoped
for would be possible; there have to be compromises on both sides. But whereas
Israel and I have been willing to move on this road, I’ve not seen the parallel
willingness to do the same.”
The Palestinians were “relying on a
Pavlovian reflex of the international community” to back their positions, and
that they could simply “sit back,” the prime minister said.
international community must do something that Chile and “a few other countries”
have done: tell the Palestinians, “Come to negotiate; you can’t avoid a
Come and talk peace. Talk peace to your own people, not only
to foreign diplomats or foreign journalists. Talk peace to the Palestinian
people,” Netanyahu said.
The international community needed to tell the
Palestinian Authority to “give up the ghost. Tell them Israel is here to stay.
Tell them there’s going to be a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state
forever. Tell them that Israel will not be swamped by the offspring of
Palestinian refugees,” he said.
“A demilitarized Palestinian state that
recognizes a Jewish state” is the solution, the prime minister said. “But we
cannot get to the solution; we cannot get to the end of the negotiations if we
don’t get to the beginning of the negotiation.”
Defense Minister Ehud
Barak also related to the role of the international community during a meeting
with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, in Israel briefly as part of a
Barak, according to a statement put out by his office,
told Rudd – who was last in Israel in December – that the time had come for
decisions both by Israel and the Palestinians.
“We need from the
international community wise support that does not push the Palestinians up a
tree from which it is difficult for them to come down later, and which also does
not ignore Israel’s unique position in the Middle East as a stable democracy
with unusual threats and complex security challenges,” Barak told
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, left on Sunday for
Italy and the Vatican, where he will hold meetings with – among others – Italian
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Cardinal
Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state.