The Palestinians must stop negotiating about talking and start peace talks
immediately, urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while in Warsaw on
“I think it is time to stop squabbling over preconditions. I
think it’s time to stop negotiating about the negotiations. I think we
have to start peace talks immediately,” Netanyahu said during a joint press
conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
He spoke in the midst
of a renewed push by United States Secretary of State John Kerry to resume
direct Israeli-Palestinian talks that have been largely frozen since December
Kerry phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on
Wednesday to assure him that he was continuing to push for renewed
Abbas reiterated the demand that Israel must freeze West Bank
settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
He also asked
that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners in its jails.
however, has insisted that talks should be held without
preconditions. Tusk joined Netanyahu in that call, in a joint statement
on principles of understanding, with respect to regional issues that was
publicized by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu said, “My goal
is to see a historic compromise that ends the conflict between Israelis and
Palestinians once and for all.”
“This will entail a demilitarized
Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, with ironclad security
arrangements for Israel – recognition, security, demilitarization,” Netanyahu
“I believe that these are the elements for peace. I don’t pose them
as preconditions for negotiations. I look forward to enter those negotiations
without preconditions without delay. I am ready for such a peace. I hope the
Palestinians are ready too,” he said.
Both he and Tusk spoke of their
support for Kerry’s efforts.
“During the meeting today we strongly
supported Israel’s and other countries’ work to solve the conflict with the
Palestinians,” Tusk said. “We have a very good opinion on [Kerry’s]
initiative and our Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorki expressed our support in this initiative,” Tusk
The joint Israeli-Polish statement of understanding was released to
the media in advance of the trip, before Netanyahu had seen it.
included a line, which stated that, “Unilateral steps by either party are
counterproductive to achieving a sustainable lasting peace.” According to an
Israeli official, Netanyahu would have phrased that line differently.
the official clarified that contrary to media reports, Netanyahu had not
backtracked from the statement, nor was it changed.
Israeli-Palestinian talks was not the only topic between the two men. They spoke
of the dangers of the Syrian civil war and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear
“Sanctions alone will not be enough. They must be coupled with a
credible military threat,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he believed the
upcoming elections would stop Iran for its nuclear pursuit or lessen the
Netanyahu also urged the European Union to officially define and
list Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
“If Hezbollah is not a terrorist
organization, I don’t know what a terrorist organization is, but it’s not just
an Israeli problem. Hezbollah has murdered innocent civilians on European
soil. And Europe cannot, must not, be indifferent to this,” Netanyahu
He also spoke of the deep friendship and history between Poland and
the Jewish people as well as personally between him and Tusk.
noted that his father was born in Warsaw in 1910 and that his grandfather taught
there as the head of Hebrew studies at a preeminent Jewish
“Warsaw was a great center of Jewish learning and Jewish culture
and Jewish life. The histories of our two people are intertwined,” Netanyahu
He added, however, that the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis
on Polish soil was a crime that has no parallel in history.
never forget our obligation to prevent this from ever happening again,”
On Thursday, before returning to Israel, the prime
minister will inaugurate a permanent exhibition “Shoah” in Block 27 at the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
This is the second time Netanyahu has
traveled to Poland since becoming prime minister in 2009. The following
ministers accompanied Netanyahu on his trip: Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval
Steinitz, Education Minister Shai Piron, Sports and Culture Minister Limor
Livnat, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri and Senior Citizens
Minister Uri Orbach.
While in Warsaw Netanyahu and the ministers held a
joint ministerial meeting with a similar Polish delegation. It is the second
such joint governmental meeting. Tusk and a delegation of ministers
visited Israel two years ago.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Nissan Tzur
contributed to this report.