The suggestion that Israeli construction plans for the E1 area of Jerusalem preclude the eventual emergence of a Palestinian state is "simply false," Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted on Monday.
Netanyahu's comments came in the wake of widespread international condemnation of preliminary plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the corridor connecting Jerusalem with Ma'aleh Adumim.
Netanyahu reiterated that for four years his government has called for direct negotiations with the Palestinians; however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has refused.
The prime minister said that the government had taken many steps to advance the prospects for talks with the PA, including enhancing economic and security cooperation with Ramallah, removing road blocks, and implementing a 10-month moratorium on building in Israeli settlements.
With respect to the latter, Netanyahu restated that the Palestinians refused to negotiate even during the construction freeze, and that following its expiration the PA engaged Israel for a few hours only to demand a new moratorium.
Additionally, he said, the PA had piled up other preconditions to negotiations, including Israel's acceptance of the 1967 borders as a baseline for talks and the release of Palestinians jailed in Israel. He also named as obstacles to peace the PA's unwillingness to recognize Israel as the Jewish state or agree to end conflict.
In this respect, Netanyahu denounced the world's complacency, saying the international community had exacted no price from the Palestinians for their refusal to negotiate.
The prime minister pointed to the PA's recent UN statehood bid
as a prime example, saying that despite the Palestinians' unilateralism, which he described as a breach of the Oslo Accords, they were not penalized.
Netanyahu also highlighted the world's "deafening" silence in the face of last weekend's festivities in Gaza marking Hamas's 25th anniversary, in which leaders of the terror group called for Israel's destruction
. Furthermore, he said, there was no outrage that Abbas continues to pursue reconciliation with Hamas
"Why weren't Palestinian diplomats summoned to EU capitals over the PA's refusal to condemn Hamas Gaza speech?", Netanyahu asked, a jab at various EU countries for having called on Israeli ambassadors
to protest the E-1 building plan.
Netanyahu concluded by reiterating his commitment to holding direct negotiations with the Palestinians in which all issues can be raised.
"Israel wants a two-state solution, but it can only be achieved through direct negotiations," he said.
While expressing disappointment that the Palestinians had wasted the last four years, he also voiced hope the PA would ultimately choose to hold talks, as he said such was the only way to achieve peace.