Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel and the US were
working on a document saying the parameters for returning to negotiations with
the Palestinians would be based on the speech US President Barack Obama gave at
AIPAC in May, and spelling out in greater detail what Obama meant by saying that
an agreement should be based on a return to the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed
Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
that “we are interacting with the US to put together a document [for an
agreement with the Palestinians] using language from Obama’s second speech [the
This speech explained in greater detail what Obama had
said three days earlier at the State Department. That speech raised Netanyahu’s
ire because it called for an agreement based on the pre-1967 lines, with
mutually agreed swaps.
To the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,
however, Obama explained more fully what he had in mind.
What he meant,
Obama had said, was that the parties themselves “will negotiate a border that is
different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula
to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.
It allows the
parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the
last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the
needs of both sides.
“The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples.
Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state
of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying
self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”
Even though Israel
and the US were working on this document, Netanyahu expressed pessimism about
returning to talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he
seems to be determined to bring Palestinian statehood recognition to a UN vote
“Abbas made a strategic decision to go to the UN, because
the price for him will be low,” Netanyahu said.
Israel was “working to
ensure a US veto in the UN Security Council, but that will not prevent a
majority in the General Assembly,” Netanyahu said.
“Unilateral steps [by
the Palestinians] will distance peace, not bring it closer,” he
Israel was working with the Quartet to draw up parameters for talks
with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said. The coordination with Washington was
better than expected, and Israel would not pay an outrageous price to start the
This coordination was manifest in the basic agreement that Israel
be recognized as a Jewish state, that Hamas cannot be a partner in the
negotiations and that the final borders will be different from the armistice
lines that existed on June 4, 1967, he said.
“The Israeli goal is direct
negotiations with the Palestinians, without preconditions,” he said. “There have
been attempts to find a way to start talks, but it does not seem to have great
“I am prepared to meet Abbas at any moment – even tonight,”
“However, this will not happen, because the Palestinians
want to go to the UN no matter what, and declare a state without making
Israel was a real partner for peace, having Israel proved
its willingness to negotiate by freezing construction in settlements and taking
down checkpoints, the prime minister said.
“No one can say the Israeli
side did not show willingness to negotiate, as opposed to the Palestinians, who
have never been willing to compromise, even in the time of Oslo,” Netanyahu
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni told Netanyahu that “instead of
blaming the whole world, you should look in the mirror.
mistake of not listening to me, and stopping negotiations after the [February
2009] elections led to a colossal diplomatic failure that harms Israel’s
security interests – this is happening because of you,” Livni said.
are harming our strategic relationship with the US in order to get applause in
You are isolating Israel and the US. Because of you, a
Palestinian state will be declared without an agreement, and it is happening on
Netanyahu responded that “deep relationships have many
layers,” and said that Livni’s view on the situation is very narrow.
support for Israel crosses governments and parties. The roots of their support
is very deep,” he said.
The prime minister also discussed Turkey, saying
the government was examining whether or not to apologize over last year’s Mavi
Marmara raid. He said there were a number of factors to take into consideration,
including bilateral relations with Turkey, Israel’s relations in the region, its
relationship with the US and the country’s commitment to its
Washington has been actively pressing both Israel and Turkey to
find a formula that ends the incident and allows for a return to friendly
An apology would protect Israeli soldiers, but would not prevent
lawsuits from Turkish citizens, Netanyahu said.
“I expressed sorrow at
the lives lost, but it is important to say the soldiers acted in self-defense,”
he said. He did not say whether he thought Israel should apologize, but only
that there were many things to take into consideration.
upbeat about the UN’s Palmer Committee, which is scheduled to release its
findings on August 20, saying that it will put Israel in a better place. He said
the report, which has been written but not released, is important because it
upholds the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, and also
because it says the implementation of the blockade was also legal.