netanyahu stinkeye 311.
(photo credit: Haim Tzach)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he was ready to accept an extended settlement freeze but that the United States, in fact, backed away from the deal.
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"At the end of the day, the United States decided not to go in that direction, justly so, and moved on to outlining talks on closing gaps, so that the core issues can be discussed," the prime minister explained.
Noting that his government had already agreed to a 10-month freeze, Netanyahu said, "The truth is that we were ready to do it again, contrary to reports that Israel refused to extend it."
The prime minister said that after he told US President Barack Obama
that he could get the cabinet to approve an extended settlement freeze,
he received a message that "the Americans were asking to back down from
Netanyahu also touched on his support for a two-state solution, blaming
the lack of progress on the Palestinians. He said that there is no
coalition agreement that could stop the political process. He added that
when he first formed his government he contacted Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but did not receive an answer.
The prime minister also said that he has supported a "two states for two
peoples" solution since 1996 and claimed that he had even expressed
that position within the Likud. His statement drew a harsh response from opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Reacting to Netanyahu's claims that he is a long-time supporter of a
two-state solution, Livni retorted, "It's amazing how you describe
alternate realities and claim that it's reality."
Pointing out that in 2002, Likud passed a resolution denouncing the
establishment of a Palestinian state, Livni repeated her recent
statements that Netanyahu's leadership is "harming Israel's security
Also at the committee meeting, Netanyahu projected that operational
training for Israel's new firefighting squadron of aircraft will be
completed summer 2011. The government, during the first stages of
training, will rent planes and employ Canadian pilots until Israeli
pilots have been properly trained.
The prime minister said that this new squadron, which will be under the
authority of the IDF, will not only deal with forest and large fires,
but also with extinguishing fires caused by missiles during wartime.