Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted for the first time to the results of the Turkish elections that took place Sunday, at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Monday.

First of all, the prime minister said, we "need to praise that there are elections in Turkey." In the Middle East, he explained, "it's not something to take for granted."

Regarding relations between the two countries, which have deteriorated over the past year, Netanyahu told reporters in Hebrew, "We will always try to fix what's broken, and to fix and end the deterioration" in ties with Ankara.

Four years ago, he said, "there were 400,000 Israeli tourists in Turkey. We have no reason or desire to continue with bad relations. We'd be happy for any way to improve [relations] with any state or leader that wants to."

Netanyahu also received the support of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in opposing a Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations this September.

Making peace, the Italian prime minister said, "requires joint initiative, and consequently requires negotiations." It would be appropriate, he added, "for the Palestinian government to recognize the State of Israel, to acknowledge previous agreements and to undertake the project of rejecting violence."

Of unilateral recognition, he added, "I don't think that this in any way would be able to contribute to peace."

Netanyahu thanked Berlusconi for his consistent opposition to attempts at bypassing peace negotiations.

Peace, he said, "will only come from negotiations. It cannot be imposed by one side, and not by one-sided UN resolutions."

Netanyahu told the press conference, "If someone really wants to be with us in peace, and not to erase us from the land, we'll sit together."

A declaration of statehood by the Palestinians would violate agreements between the Palestinians and Israel, he added, explaining that it would also harden the Palestinian positions. "If the UN adopts the Palestinian positions, why would they negotiate? If [that happens], it could actually push peace back.

"Anybody interested in advancing peace," the prime minister said, will oppose a UN declaration.


During the press conference, Netanyahu also commented on Iran saying Tehran should be worried over the possibility of a credibility military strike on the country, Israel Radio reported.

"It's not obvious where the Arab Spring will go, but I will say this, that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, the Arab Spring could well turn into an Iranian winter," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

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